Currently

Loving

Spending time with Noah. He’ll be one on Friday(!), and he’s becoming such a little boy. He’s just started walking, can say ‘mama’, ‘dada’, and ‘nanna’; and is learning new things every day. This weekend alone, he learnt how to eat off a fork, and wave bye-bye. He’s no longer a baby, and is growing up so fast. I’m cherishing every moment with him. Soaking up his snotty snuggles and belly laughs. He’s brilliant fun, my baby boy.

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Reading

I’m just over halfway through MORNING STAR by Pierce Brown. I’ve been staying up late to read more than my usual one chapter every night. I have some serious eyebags to show for it, but it’s bloody fantastic! I can’t put it down.

Watching

I’m re-watching Grimm and Pretty Little Liars. Before Noah, I didn’t watch much TV, but I like to put something on in a morning while I feed Noah his morning bottle and try to wake myself up. I’m not the morning person I pretend to be.

Listening To

My favourite writing soundtrack:

Thinking About

How I’m going to juggle writing with two kids until two. In the last few weeks, I have finally got a good writing routine down with Noah. It’s taken a year, and I know that once the new baby arrives, all that will go out the window, because having a newborn is hard, and after going the transition once before with Noah, I know it will be months before we all get into the swing of a new daily routine, and that’s before adding writing back into the mix. I really hope I can get Noah and the new baby onto the same napping and bedtime schedule, as that’s when I get the bulk of my writing done now. I know I’ll figure it out eventually, as I have with Noah. If it takes another year, then so be it.

Anticipating

Our gender scan on Saturday. I cannot wait to see who’s in there this time. This pregnancy has been so different in the absence of the extreme morning sickness, so I’m not sure if that’s a sign I’m having a girl, or if it’s another boy. Of course, the only thing that matters is that the baby is healthy. Still, it will be lovely to know what our family will look like come October.

Wishing

For warmer days. A few weeks ago we had a beautiful sunny weekend, most of which I missed due to a migraine (a pregnancy symptom). It’s already May, and we go away shortly for a week in the Yorkshire Dales, and the weather just refuses to warm up. Come on already, summer! I’m ready for you.

Making Me Happy

This beautiful face:

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2017 Writing Goals

Sickness and teething sabotaged my plans to get this post up at the end of January, and I have finally recover from an awful cold. Thought I’d seize the chance to get this up while we’re all healthy. No doubt we’ll all be poorly again before winter’s finished. Teething, however, is an ongoing thing, of course. No stopping that.

Anyway, enough rambling.

I knew having babies would delay my writing career—and I was right. At nine-months-old, Noah is crawling and quite the little explorer. No more sneaking in writing time while he plays on the floor. He demands all my attention, all the time. Except during naptimes.

Yes, I might be home with him all day, but looking after Noah is a full-time job, and writing comes second.

He won’t be little forever, and I’m cherishing every moment with my baby boy, who is fast growing into little boy. Much too fast.

So no lofty writing goals for me this year. I see no point in setting myself up for failure with unrealistic goals. I’m good at that. Therefore, I’ve stuck to (what I hope are) manageable goals. The way I see it, this year and probably the year after, are for preparation. Time to get my stories drafted, revised, polished, and ready to query. It sounds like plenty of time, but with a busy family life, it’s guaranteed to fly by.

My goals:

  • Finish first draft of Timekeeper (currently at 20k)
  • Revise Soulbound (for a second time, using Savannah’s notes)
  • Plan/outline Secret Project
  • Draft as much of Secret Project as possible in September (35k? Maybe half of the book?)

Still plenty to be getting on with, right?

2016 Wrap-Up

I was sad to bid goodbye to 2016. A major bout of depression in the third trimester of my pregnancy made for a rocky beginning, but once Noah was born, the year only got better. The rest was fantastic! Becoming a mum is, second only to marrying Neil, the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.

The Major Life Stuff

Noah. We welcomed our gorgeous boy in May, and he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us. I always wanted to be a mum, and it’s more amazing than I could have ever imagined. Hard and tiring, yes, but so, so amazing. Noah is days away from eight months, so close to crawling, and super vocal. His favourite things are Sophie the Giraffe (teether), baby biscotti, and his dummy. He’s cheeky, loud, and has a bit of a flair for the dramatic (like me.) He’s just an absolute sweetheart.

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Neil and I celebrated our paper anniversary. One whole year married.

We bought a house. Somehow having a mortgage feels more grown-up than being married, or having a baby.

I resigned from my post as school librarian to stay home with Noah (and write when he naps.)

Writing

I started out the year continuing to pick away at my Soulbound rewrite. My daily battle with hyperemesis gravidarum made it difficult to write, but I worked when I could. Not long after we moved, I sent a sample of my revision to my critique partner, who advised me to take a break from Soulbound—as I was too close to the story—and to focus on another project for the meantime.

After Noah was born, and I was ready to get back to writing, I pulled out Timekeeper from where it had been shelved since early 2015. I threw out what I already had, and remapped out the story over the next few months. I outlined every scene ready to fast draft Timekeeper for NaNoWriMo. I didn’t factor for Noah to teeth most of that month, though, so I only managed 13k, but I was more than happy with it.

I added another 5k in earlier this month, but haven’t written much else in the last fortnight due to all the wonderful festive chaos that comes with Christmas, travelling, and being ill.

I did, however, have fun throwing around ideas for a story that’s been brewing for a couple of years now. A dream inspired me to revisit the story idea, and I’m so excited about it. Secret Project, as I’ve been calling it, will remain on the backburner, though, until I’m done with Timekeeper—and most likely Soulbound. (I’m not ready to shelve that book permanently yet.)

Reading

I knew I wouldn’t get much reading done once Noah arrived. I got through a good few books before April, then didn’t read for months. I was too tired. I have managed a couple over the last few months. I like to read before I go to sleep, but I’m usually so exhausted by bedtime, I can’t keep my eyes open long enough to read more than a page. Even so, I read some incredible books this year.

My favourites for 2016 were:

  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
  • The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski
  • Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilto
  • The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas
  • Winter by Marissa Meyer

Good Enough

I have made many half-arsed attempts at NaNoWriMo since deciding to pursue a writing career, but this year was the first time I took it seriously.

I’ll get straight to the point: I didn’t win. I didn’t cross 50,000 words mark. Hell, I didn’t even make half of that. I finished with only 13, 794 words.

But I didn’t fail.

No, because ‘fail’ insinuates that I gave up on my story, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The truth being that Noah cut two teeth in November, one after another, and we had a long fortnight of disrupted sleep, and a grumpy mama and baby, just doing what we had to do to get by. It was like having a newborn again. Writing only happened if I didn’t nap when Noah napped, which I did—a lot.

It wasn’t without guilt.

Saying that, I spend much of my life feeling guilty nowadays. That’s what happens when you juggle so many roles. I forever feel like I’m failing—that I’m not a good enough mother, that I’m not giving my story enough attention, that I’m not keeping on top of the house.

But I’m beginning to realise that the only person who thinks I’m failing is—well, me. All I can do is my best.

That is good enough.

Time has a different meaning since Noah arrived. Even though I’m home full-time now, my days revolve around him. I write when he sleeps—as looking after him is my priority. But time is always in short supply these days.

So trying to write 1,667 words per day was always going to be a challenge, but when the teething hit, I knew it was out the window. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t intend to write as much as I possibly could—but again, the time shortage.

Napping at the same time as Noah ate into a lot of it.

Plus, I’m a slow writer. Whether drafting or revising—it doesn’t matter—I am SLOW. And that’s okay.

It’s so easy to feel like we’re not good enough today. We only see the best of everyone.

But we are good enough—and that’s why I’m taking those 13,794 and calling it a success. It is good enough.

I am good enough.

Writing Update: October 2016

It’s been two years since I finished the first draft of SOULBOUND. Two years!

Sometimes it feels like I’ve accomplished so little since then. Sure, I revised SOULBOUND and wrote half of a second draft, drafted the first 20K of TIMEKEEPER, and am currently planning to rework and finish that draft for NaNoWriMo—or get as close to the end as I can. But that’s nothing when I look at my peers. Some of whom crank out multiple manuscripts a year. It’s easy to feel like I don’t have what it takes.

Then I remember that I shouldn’t compare my writing life to anyone else’s. They are as individual as the people they belong to. Theodore Roosevelt got it right when he said: ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’

That, and I’ve had a couple of crazy years in real life—I got married, bought a house, and had a baby. So when you take all that into account, as well as the writing—the last couple of years have been very productive. I suppose it’s fair to say that my career took a backseat through most of that, especially considering how ill I was during my pregnancy. I was on sick leave from the day job for the duration.

As I said in my last post, I’ve been more motivated since Noah’s birth than ever before. Now I have such limited free time, I get annoyed at my past self for procrastinating so much. I could have gotten loads done. But I can’t go back and put my past self straight, so Instead I’m consciously trying to make better decisions about my time now.  Decisions that my future self will be grateful for. Some days it just doesn’t happen. I do have a baby, people. I am trying, though. And it is making a difference.

So, yes, two years on, I’m still not done with the second draft of SOULBOUND. I’d spent a full year revising the manuscript, but had gotten too close to the story and was making silly mistakes. We needed some time apart. It’ll stay shelved until I’ve drafted TIMEKEEPER. I’m aiming to be done by the end of the year, so I can focus on the third draft of SOULBOUND in early 2017.

I’ll be back before the end of the month with a post on how I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo. Should be a busy month, trying to find time to write 1667 words a day around a baby who refuses to nap.

I’m Back!

Holy hiatus—that was a long one! Apologies, folks.

When my son, Noah, arrived in May, everything else had to take a backseat while I learnt to navigate the turbulent waters of new motherhood.

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Almost five months in, and I’m happy to report that we’ll all still alive. Noah is—fingers crossed—out of the sleep regression phase and sleeping through the night again. We have some semblance of a routine in place. And now I’m getting more sleep, I feel like I’m finally getting my shit together again. Things are good.

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I gave up my day job as a school librarian extraordinaire to stay home with Noah full-time, basically exchanging one kind of wrangling for another. I love it.

My plan was to take time off to focus on Noah’s infancy, then get serious about writing again only when I was ready.

To be honest, though, I’ve been eager to get back on the writing train for months now. Since July, I’ve been trying to find a balance between book and baby—and it’s bloody hard sometimes. Totally worth it, though.

This is the life I always dreamed of, and I’ll be damned if I won’t do everything in my power to make it work.

Of course, being Noah’s mum comes first. Always. But once he’s asleep, my book gets all my attention.

As ever, It’s a work-in-progress.

I’m thrilled to be back, and taking my writing life by the horns again. Right now I’m working on a super detailed scene-by-scene outline for TIMEKEEPER, in preparation for NANOWRIMO next month. Because, you know, I’m crazy.

2015 Wrap-Up

Ah, 2015. Such a crazy wonderful year, in so many ways. As usual, I’m going to do a wrap-up on this past year. I’m always late with these posts—but not this time.

Writing

I have worked on Soulbound revisions all year long and am still only halfway through the rewrite. Using Susan Dennard’s step-by-step guide to revisions, I ripped the story apart and spent months piecing it back together with index cards and sticky notes. I hauled my revisions folder everywhere.

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I started my rewrite in April and knew right away that it would take me at least the rest of the year. All my other writing goals went out the window. During the summer holidays, I regularly wrote all night long and was hugely productive, despite crippling self-doubt. I pushed through.

Then I fell pregnant and got really sick. I have hyperemesis gravidarum, which is basically extreme morning sickness. I’ve been on sick leave for months and can’t stand to be on the laptop for long. So the rewrite continues in fits and starts, just a few words at a time. But as the saying goes, progress is progress, no matter how small. I’ll get there.

Reading

Again, I didn’t read nearly as many books as I aimed to. I wanted to get through a book a week, but only managed 34. I’ve had reading slumps after finishing incredible books that left me hungover for weeks and other periods where I’ve devoured two books a day.

My favourites for 2015 are:

  • The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
  • The Young Elites by Marie Lu
  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
  • My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tabir

Other Important Life Stuff:

I married my best friend in May. The wedding was gorgeous and totally us—and was, without a doubt, the best day of my life.

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Photography by Ally Byrom

At our big scan earlier this month, we found out we’re expecting a healthy baby boy! My pregnancy has been rough, but knowing our son is perfect makes it all worth it. We’re absolutely over the moon and can’t wait to meet him in May 2016.

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We’re buying a new build. Well, officially it won’t be ours until it’s ready in the springtime, but it’s reserved. Once we’ve exchanged, it’s all ours. We’re so ready to be home-owners. (That sounds so grown-up. You know, because getting married and having a baby isn’t grown-up enough.) We were over renting a long time ago.

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2016. <3