Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Accomplishments of 2013

I didn't read much this year and I honestly don't feel like I did much, but in retrospect there were a few big accomplishments I gathered up on 2013.


    • Got Indefinite Leave to Remain
    • Learned how to take care of my back
    • Got my driver's license
    • Got my own car
    • Drove through the moors to The Lake District
    • Had a lovely vacation at The Lake District
    • Had an awesome Florida vacation
    • Learned that I like working in Primary Schools
    • Finished a book
    • Tried to get published (book needs work but I worked towards getting it out there at least.)
    • Had an awesome Thanksgiving
    • Had an awesome Christmas
    • Had an awesome New Year's Eve (stayed at home – going out is over-rated.)
    • Discovered Meg Rosoff, Veronica Roth, and Lauren Oliver
    • Got my first British tax return
    • Went to my first British writer's workshop

Very motivational New Year’s resolutions

This year I decided to make my resolutions, or goals, more simple and to the point. I’ve enjoyed reading her books and watching her television show for years now, so I’m using some of  Joyce Meyer’s motivational quotes to guide me with my goals for 2014.  

The flesh, or human nature, is generally lazy and self-centred.

I am the first to admit that I really shy away from anything that’s difficult. I get put off by anything that will be tough to do. That does not make for a pleasant lifestyle because it’s so dang boring to sit around all day. I know it’s fun when it first happens but after months of not having a routine that includes going outside in the world, you go a little stir-crazy. So one of my goals will definitely to be out there more.

Humble people ask for help.

I also have a habit of not wanting to spend time with people, and next year I’m really going to seek help from people in regards to my writing and my teaching. I’m hoping to sign up with a Teaching Assistant course in January, and I’ve already used CPSeek to find a writing partner to critique some of my work. I know it’s a crucial part of the writing process, and after reading Kami Garcia’s 13.5 Things That Will Change Your Writing, I decided to accept that I need help and got on with it.

The truth is, anyone can start projects. The world is full of just-started projects that looked great at the time but were never completed.

This also goes under Neil Gaiman’s Advice to Aspiring Writers that we have to finish things. I have some great story ideas to work on this year, and I know it needs to get done. However, I’m not going through making a whole Excel spreadsheet about how many words I’m going to write on each day. I tried that and I just don’t follow through. Instead, I’m going to work on the “Write When You Can” advice that Kami Garcia has. I’ve gone back to typing some notes up in an email to myself at night on ye olde iPhone, just so I keep the momentum of the story going in my head. I’ve tried putting things of until “Writing Time” and it just slips away too easily.

Strive for excellence, not perfection, because we don't live in a perfect world.

I too often get out of things because I think it won’t live up to my expectations, or it won’t be worth doing in the end. It’s a self-doubt thing. It’s a fear thing too, I guess. I can so easily get into the mind-set of thinking I won’t be good at whatever I’m going to do because in the end it’s not going to be perfect. It will be messy and a pain in the butt and I won’t want to go through it anymore and just quit before I even start.

This is why I rush through things when I write. I aim for some obscure deadline I give myself, just so I can be done with it because I knew it wasn’t going to be as good as I wanted it to be. But that’s okay. As Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is s**t.” We have to make a bad first draft to make a good second draft. We have to make mistakes, so we can learn how to be better. I really want to work on being okay with at least doing the thing and working hard at it, even if it doesn’t end up perfect in the end.

Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, fault-finding, and a negative, judgmental attitude.

I’ve known this for years now, and I want to keep this on my list. The more I get upset about little things on Twitter, or at school, or in the news, the more miserable I make myself (and Steve, poor guy, who has to listen to my rants.) It’s not worth the energy and stress to get worked up about it, so I have to keep that in mind as I head off into 2014 with my new goals.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

9 more sleeps

I took this picture in 2011 at Beamish. This was the first Christmas I spent as a UK resident, although we had “Pre-Christmas” together in 2009, and “Post-Christmas” when I moved here in Jan 2011.

Now I’ve been here almost three years and I plan on writing up a whole little tribute to the UK post when the time comes. As far as Christmas is concerned though, England does it so well. I know that the cities in the US and even some small towns would have celebrations and fun activities for people to participate in the festivities, but I’ve never seen such outpouring of “Let’s Celebrate!” as I have here.

Aside from Beamish, we have ice skating at the Life Centre, we have the Fenwick window display, and we have Enchanted Parks at Saltwell. Also, the stores are full of Christmas appropriate food and gift boxes. Even if you just take a trip to Tesco, you can find plenty of presents that has some kind of incentive to buy with vouchers and sale prices. Even last Friday I went to Sainsbury’s to get petrol and the Salvation Army carollers were in the store entertaining the shoppers. Then we went to Tesco and a Silver Band was playing music in the entryway. You just wouldn’t get that at Wal-Mart in Florida.

We have Christmas TV specials and this big break that everyone is so incredibly thankful for. Even when I was teaching last year, I was amazed at how Christmas break was treated like we would treat Summer Break in Florida. Kids had a Year 7 dance to go to and were allowed to dress up in their finest. Teachers went out to eat and dressed down for the day. Everyone who works has a Christmas party where they go out to eat. Bottom line is, the English love to celebrate Christmas and I’m so grateful for it. It’s nice to have some kind of positive, happy outlook on life with pleasant attitudes towards family time and just enjoying the holiday.

For me, during this last week before Steve is off work until after New Year’s, I am working on a few projects (sadly I can’t keep one in check, I keep thinking of something new and having to do a little work on them to keep the initial ideas fresh.) But it’s good. The more I write, the more I write (if that makes any sense.) I have even found myself writing over the weekend, which I didn’t do before unless it was for NaNo. Yesterday I got 1100 words down. Making this a habit is one of the most important challenges in my life.

Friday, December 13, 2013

When teaching isn’t teaching

I said last time that I didn’t have much to write about, so I hadn’t updated anything in a while. Well, I think it’s because I’ve been in the house so much that I’m fresh out of any stories to discuss. When things are good and you’re content, there’s not a whole lot to mention in a blog. But when you go out in the world and see the things of the public school system, then you’ve got a story.

Yesterday I had one of those final straw moments that I think are good and necessary to get you really firm in your convictions about what you should or shouldn’t be doing with your life. I have said this many times: I’m not a good teacher. I was never trained to handle discipline. The Florida Teacher Certification for non-Education majors just takes someone with an English, Science, History, or Math degree, throws them in a classroom, then while they struggle to keep up with behaviour issues, lesson planning, and grading, the administration will tell you what a crap job you’re doing. They’ll tell you to go to teacher classes after school where you watch movies about teaching, have you harassed by a mentor and any teaching support who can come into the classroom to “help” so you never have time when you’re not being constantly monitored and criticized. (They’ll harass your students during lessons too, by the way.) Then admin will tell you how they’re trying to “help” you but “it’s not working” and you’re just “spinning your wheels.”

By the way, they never teach you how to make a lesson plan either – I learned that last year here in England, thank you very much. At least Florida now has courses that you can take at a college that will give you a stand-in Education degree that actually trains you for the job.

In the UK, they won’t let that happen. In order to be a teacher, you have to have volunteer hours at a school if you’ve never done teaching support work, undergo a Master’s level program that puts you, as an adult, into the classroom. You have to be accepted into a competitive program. You go through a rigorous training that I’ve been told is “the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” This is coming from British teachers who have gone through every possible high level testing imaginable too.

But, alas, since I already had a Florida Professional Teaching Certificate, I was allowed to get Qualified Teaching Status in England because my first language is English from an English-speaking country.

I still haven’t been really trained.

With that said, I have long been struggling to get out of this ridiculous supply teaching gig. Not because I don’t like going to school, I do, it’s just that supply teaching isn’t teaching (unless you’re on a contract of some sort and are responsible for the lesson plans and grading.) But the Secondary Schools, the Year 7 and up classes, those are the ones I originally wanted to teach when I was an English Major at UCF ten years ago.

When I got here in England, I tried to just jump right back into teaching by doing supply (substitute) teaching and hope that it worked out. It didn’t, and here’s an example of why.

Yesterday I was called by my teaching agency about an English teaching job at a Secondary School for four days. There was no information given other than the name and location of the school. Since I was given a day’s notice, I accepted because, I’m in need of some kind of work to get me out of the house more. Plus, I hate being home and not enjoying the pre-Christmas festivities around town. But, anyway, so I drove to the school early, fought the traffic, and made it just on time.

But here’s the thing, British schools are never worried about you being late if you do supply. They just casually take you over to class when they’re ready, and kids will already be sitting there, waiting on you. Now, here’s the thing, they will sometimes not give you any work for kids to do, or they’ll give you ridiculous lesson plans like I had yesterday:

First Period Year 7 Pastoral class was supposed to do work that some other person had at Reception. Of course when I asked about this, Reception gave me a strange look, like I was a Space Cadet, and said the person who would have the resources wasn’t there. Of course. The school nurse brought me up to the classroom and didn’t have any idea what assignments they were supposed to do either. Of course.

The kids were okay, but there was no work for them. I just tried to chat with them about movies and video games and Florida. They told me that they had been watching a film (9 times out of 10 it’s a lie, but if there’s no work, I was willing to give it a go.) Of course the computer wouldn’t log my temp teacher info, or the kids’. In the end I found some coloured pencils and had them draw Christmas pictures. During this time I had one boy who pushed and shoved everyone and was a right pain in the butt. One girl walked out because he and another kid were drawing pictures of her, so that was a big to-do and her friends wanted to go find her and bring her bag to her. Eventually, a gentleman (no idea who he was) came in, took two boys away, and the garbage bin with said portraits in it. Good riddance.

I had planning afterward and I looked over my class plans for the rest of the day. The Number One no-no in sub planning: “The class is to silently read all period.” I was going to have two Year 7 classes, and one Year 8 who was already on class report so if there were any behaviour issues, I was to use Mr. B’s name as a threat. Now, ask me if I know who Mr. B are or how to get in contact of anyone while I’m in this classroom, stuck in the corner of the room with 30 kids and no phone. I don’t and I can’t. I contemplated yelling for help out the window, but it just overlooked an empty soccer field.

When the Year 7 class came in, I immediately saw why this teacher was going to be gone for four days. 30 some kids who could have given a care less if I spoke to them, shouted at them, or instructed them to:

  • stop turning the lights on and off
  • stop erasing people’s names off the board
  • stop drawing on the board (I took the markers off the whiteboard and they tried to get them off the shelf behind me instead.)
  • put their phones away and stop video recording me and the class
  • stop sitting on the desks for group selfies
  • stop walking out of the room without permission
  • stop playing with an open sack of sugar in someone’s bag that half the class managed to get all over the desk and the floor
  • stop shoving and pushing one another
  • stop opening the window
  • sit down and stop dancing
  • stop talking and read

The story was, as some of the girls in class told me, is they had one teacher at the beginning of the year who left, then they brought in an Australian teacher who was “horrible.” (Good on her for being mean.) But after knowing she was out for four days, I’m wondering if she’s getting the heck out of there too. I don’t blame her. I even wrote on her note that if this Year 7th class wasn’t her worst, I felt very sorry for her. Apparently I’m not the only non-Brit who is getting the raw end of the teaching in England deal.

She even had only 8 pens available for the class and she had to keep tally of which kids had borrowed pen from her because they never had supplies. I had that kind of thing in the 7th and 8th grade classes in Florida. They would come in without a book, bag, pen, anything. Ridiculous stuff.

Anyway, I gave up on the silent reading idea after ten minutes of getting no where with them. They told me reading was awful and they hated it, so I told them to get their workbooks and carry on with what they had done in class before. That was a whole big deal too because some didn’t have one and what should they do and if one had a new book the other one wanted one. You get the picture. I circulated the room, I talked to individual students, I did my “thing” you’re supposed to do to manage children. They would just look at me, then carry on doing whatever they wanted.

Eventually, some teacher/support worker saw them running in and out of class, came in and scared them enough to sit in a chair (this only works for permanent staff who know the kids and know what to do with ones who are misbehaving.) She said something about them knowing that they aren’t allowed to use the toilet during lesson times. News to me.

But no matter, by that time I had already sat at my desk, emailed the teaching agency on my phone and told them to find someone else to cover the classes for the rest of the time. When they asked why, I told them that I’d never seen a Year 7 class misbehave that much and I didn’t want an incident to occur after they’d been video taping me. (That’s all I need to start some law suit about my being liable for some kid shoving another kid into a desk while I’m shouting at kids to put their phones away.)

And after all these years of trying and “spinning my wheels” and knowing that, as I’ve been told by 100s of teachers before, you have to put on an act of Wicked Mean Teacher day in and day out, I left. It is too stressful and not worth the anger and frustration. It’s especially not worth it for £75 that a school is only willing to pay for someone as “Advanced Cover Support” instead of a “Qualified Teacher.” After I stood there, watching the kids get progressively more rowdy, even after a member of staff spoke to them, I knew I was going to leave. Once I dismissed them (I tried to only dismiss the first row, but they all took off and ignored me. They turned the lights off again on their way out for the 20th time too.) I got my things, signed out, and left.

That is not teaching. Teaching is not being a presence in a classroom while kids do whatever the heck they want to. I think Year 7 is the worst. Year Six at the Primary School is more tolerable. In fact Primary is very tolerable after seeing things like this at a huge Secondary School with too many kids to keep track of.

So I told the teaching agency I wasn’t going to do supply for a Secondary School anymore. I’ve been to some nice ones where the teachers weren’t yelling and screaming at kids in the hallway all the time, but that’s been maybe two out of a dozen. I enjoyed being at the Primary Schools because you have other classes around you, other teachers and support workers around you, and a lot less kids at the school to deal with. Even a middle school I went to 40 miles away on my first teaching assignment after I got my car – that wasn’t bad at all. But once they put these guys in a huge school, something happens that I just can’t imagine. They run around doing whatever they please. It’s not as bad as what I’ve seen in Florida, but I still wonder what kind of money it would take to get any future children of ours into a school that actually helped them succeed.

And this is why I’m back to the idea of training as a teaching assistant. I have experience and I would rather work in the Primary Schools, so in order to get some qualifications, I figure I should take a course here and get job placement to train. I honestly don’t know what other jobs I could do. Steve is totally willing to get me back in school and get another certificate under my belt, but I don’t know what else I could do. As I said before, the library training was useless (I even tried to contact the CILIP about what I could do and no one’s ever gotten back to me.) I just don’t want to keep “spinning my wheels.”

I love books and I love school and it’s a shame that I don’t have a career in either of them.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

15 Sleeps Until Christmas

Christmas @ MetroCentre

Okay, kids. This is another post that I’ve started to write but, unlike the countless others, I’m going to post this.

Everything has been good and fine here. I think I have about everything I need for Christmas Day. (There’s plenty more I would love to get but my cash flow isn’t having it this year.)

I’m hoping to get myself in a Teaching and Learning Support course in January so I can have a certificate that UK schools recognize. Not having any kind of British credentials to my name is making my career completely stall. Plus, I’ve never been properly trained as a teacher of any kind, so I’m hoping to just start fresh.

I’m working on two books as well. One of them is the NaNoWriMo project that I tried work out a basic outline, then stalled on actually writing it on November 1st. Little by little, I’m working on it without the pressure of “write like mad without any worry about it making sense.”

With that said, I may not be posting for a while (I may be, but who knows?) I’ve not been that interested in blogging lately, but if something interesting comes up I’ll update. It doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned the blog, it just means my need to discuss myself is starting to diminish. Weird, I know.

So if I don’t get back to the blog before the holidays, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Annoying career choices

Supply Teaching

I do not understand how the Department of Education works here. I really don’t. Supply teachers are paid all sorts of different amounts, then when they offer you a job for the day, they offer it to you for less than agreed in the contract (and half of what you’ve been paid in the past for the same job, at the same school, through a different agency.) You get called at 8:15 to ask you to be somewhere at 8:30. You get asked to drive 45 minutes to a school for potential less money. You get asked to work in special schools when you have no training in SEN whatsoever. You get asked to work as a P.E. teacher when you’re an English teacher with Qualified Teacher Status, only to be knocked into by a crowd of feral Year 10 girls.

When I researched how much supply teachers are paid, apparently not in London, you can expect to start off at £105 as a Newly Qualified Teacher, then get an increase in pay. I’ve never been given more than £100. In Scotland, the normal pay is £145, from what I read too. There are also all these different terms for supply teaching – cover support, English specialist, teaching support. Each one gets paid different, so even if you’re an English teacher with QTS, you can be sent into a school who only needs “cover support” and half of what an “English specialist” supply teacher would for the day.

Is the job different? Not that I can see. Supply/Substitute teaching means going into a classroom, fighting kids to be quiet and get on with it when they know they’ll never see you again, and given no work to do with them because no one has left lesson plans. (Not that the kids care anyway.) Whether you teach a history, English, or maths class, it’s always the same.

In Florida they just gave substitute teachers with a Bachelor’s degree $70 a day, and with a Master’s degree $75. You had an online timesheet you could look up jobs with and list when you wanted to work. Here there are twenty local teaching agencies that handle supply teachers. The teaching agencies are doing their job, but anyone can start up one, and decide whether to call you or not.

Teaching English as a Second Language

I’ve been told by people on Twitter, and in writing workshops or teaching gigs, that I should go get my certificate to teach English as a Foreign Language. So, since this supply teaching thing isn’t helping me any, I started looking into it.

First of all, the UK has either the CELTA or the Trinity certification program. This is the good, accredited program, apparently, and the shorter courses, although they are supposed to be accredited, aren’t worth anything. Now, the problem is that the USA and Canada, from what I’m told, don’t recognize anything that’s not a TEFL certification specifically. These UK CELTA certs are supposed to be internationally recognized, but apparently that’s not really true.

Also, one college who use to offer the Trinity program told me that teachers with experience can train and work at the same time in some colleges to get their certificate. Another college who offers the CELTA said that the British Council won’t let you teach ESOL without the CELTA, regardless of teaching experience. (Even though the CELTA says it’s for those who have never taught, but whatever.)

I wrote to the British Council to see if they could give me an answer to this. I’ve tried to ask Twitter if anyone in the UK has gone through ESOL training but, surprise surprise, I’ve had no response to that or my questions about supply teacher pay rates.

Also, in order to get into a CELTA program, you have to do an interview with a thirty minute language tasks (little mini-test) and an interview about your test, just to prove you should be in the course. And here I thought getting into grad school was tough. I’m telling you, no one in the UK cares if you speak English, have taught English, and were born and raised in an English speaking country for more than thirty years of your life.

And again I wonder, is it even going to be worth it? The program is apparently really tough, but if the UK will give me a steady job, I’m absolutely fine with going through the process. However, this test asks you to indicate is verbs are in “present continuous” tense and what the proper syllable markings are in different words. I’m not sure I could even pass the interview if that’s what they’re looking for.


Library jobs are posted. All kinds. Full time, part time, senior librarian, research librarian, library assistant, and so on. I apply. I get a rejection letter. I can’t get shortlisted for an interview for anything. Pointless, useless degree and a bunch of financial aid I’ll never pay off. What happened to this, “You can get $36k a year being a librarian!” theory they told us about four or five years ago?


I’ve never been happier than I have been, sitting here at home, working on my book. It’s a very anti-social way of conducting life but, hey, it works for me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Quitting NaNo and choosing a book’s teen audience

I absolutely refuse to make a post about tips for writers, so this isn’t one. I taught writing, and I’ve taken classes on writing. Some tips are relevant, yes. Ending a story with “it was all a dream” is a terrible idea. That’s a given. But aside from having good punctuation, having a structure, and a strong character the rest is just what worked for one person. (I read something about how you don’t put “the end” in your writing, because the reader should know it’s the end. Not true in terms of manuscript formatting, I’m afraid.)
I gave up on NaNoWriMo after I sat down with an outline and rules on how to create a scene, and froze. Now I’ve moved on to something else and the whole racing to get a word count in each day has just gone out the window.
I’ve realized in the past three years that I’m really impatient. Steve, bless him, is the one who’s pointed this out to me. I have lived with the “Well, what are you going to do? You’d better do something!” mind-set all my life until I moved here. Now I understand that if something’s not working, don’t keep trying to push it. (As someone said on Twitter about my outline, “If it’s blocking you, ditch it.”)
I’m back to another story idea in the same world I had started early this year. I’ve been reading a lot about Middle Grade versus Young Adult because my subject matter doesn’t revolve around the character’s love life. (Crushing, yes, but details of a romance, just no.) Also, my sentences are shorter (again, what I learned in college short story writing: “Get in and get out.”) and my vocabulary doesn’t include a bunch of SAT words. I’m totally uncomfortable with the romance issues, and even when I’ve thought of good YA books that deal with such topics, I know they can potentially get into uncomfortable territory. (I know how my friends talked in high school and college. I don’t have any desire to try and stomach that in my own work.) I’m way more comfortable with a younger main character because I feel like I can concentrate on the story.
But in a few months I may change my mind. Who knows?
So here’s a few links I found regarding how MG and YA are categorized. One thing’s for sure, the age of the main character is a small part of it. Who the audience is, is what I have to keep in mind.
The Difference Between Middle Grade & Young Adult -
Middle grade novels are characterized by the type of conflict encountered by the main character. Children in the primary grades are still focused inward, and the conflicts in their books reflect that. Characters are also a key element to young adult novels, but these books often have more complicated plots than those for middle grade.
Is it MG or YA?-
My advice? Get out of that gray area! If you read a lot of MG and YA books, you can easily isolate the difference. MG books are shorter than YA, deal with any “issues” or “content” (edgy stuff) but only secondhand (like the kid’s mom is an alcoholic, not the kid herself), have less darkness and often a sweeter ending than most books for older readers, are sophisticated but still accessible for reluctant readers, are more open to curriculum tie-ins and educational content, and are written to appeal to 10-12 year-old readers, at their heart.
YA books are longer, darker, edgier, less about education and more about a riveting story (though MG should have one, too, of course), and written to appeal to readers 14+.
Middle Grade? Teen? Where Do You Draw the Line? -
Middle grade novels tend to be more outwardly focused: Their plot of events, of things happening to the character, is more important over the course of the book than what happens within the character. (Though that matters very much to the climax of the book, when the outward events trigger an inner change.)
Teen novels tend to give as much weight to the interior mechanics of character dilemma and change as to the outward mechanics of plot and event. That is, how a character feels about what is happening is as important as what is happening.
Teen novels tend to be less a simple-upsetting-of-a-status-quo (the world as it the reader knows it) and more the realization that the world is more complex than we suspected as children. (Its mysteries are legion.)
YA to MG: Young Adult Vs. Middle Grade -
MG: protag’s personal struggle is the focus. Anything that happens is viewed in light of how it affects him/her.
YA: protag focuses on other people’s struggles as well - whether or not he/she is affected by them.
These all helped me get a better idea of what middle grade books really are instead of just thinking they were one step up from chapter books. There are some beautiful MG books, like When You Reach Me and Liar and Spy that really influenced my love for MG stories. Right now I’m reading How I Live Now. While Daisy is 15 and the novel is shorter, there is an underage romance (with her cousin) going on. However the war is only dealt with in terms of how it effects her life. That seems to be a bit more MG than YA for me. There’s that gray area again.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rules for writing and outlining blues

I talked on Twitter all yesterday about the rules of outlining. I had this seemingly good idea this summer, I wrote some ideas for scenes and what I wanted to happen, then I started getting into the “How to Structure a Novel.”

So. Many. Rules.

Scenes have to have three parts, and they have to lead into one another. Books have three acts, a Hero’s Quest, and the second act is broken in half. This is the only way you will ever write a good book because we live in the 21st Century and all books have to be like this to be a success.

Creativity is fine, I’m told, but you need framework. You don’t jump in, write something, then editing later. Nono. You’d have a mess. You want to follow the structure. Make sure every part is exact.

I’m exaggerating, of course, but only a little. I wanted to learn about structure of novels because we’re only taught short story writing, essay writing, and poetry as Lit and Writing majors. How to put novels together is tricky. You don’t just get in and get out. You don’t write a story, get feedback, edit and polish. No.

When I was taught as a kid, we had introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. That was what worked. Ah, the poor mis-led children of the 80s.

After I went through webinars and my Young Adult Writing class, I’ve used my big summer project idea to plan it out. At first I thought it was going well. I never completed an outline. You know why? Because I don’t know how the book is going to go. I have a beginning, scene ideas, and a conclusion to aim for. Granted, the smaller, basic outline that my professor gave me is easier to work with:

hook, backstory, trigger – crisis, struggle, epiphany – plan, climax, ending

And I have somewhat of an idea about what I could put in there but, you know what? It’s boring.

Now that NaNoWriMo showed up, I sat down and tried to go back to my diving in and making a scene. But now I can’t do that. My scene must have a goal, a conflict, and a disaster with a reaction that leads to the next goal. I don’t mind framework, but this has really killed my creativity and interest in the project. I didn’t like the project to begin with, and this has just solidified my need to throw it in a drawer once my class is over, and forget about it. It’s going to be a practice in character sketches and outlining. Maybe later, once the tears of frustration have left, will I try it again.

Anyway, I want to thank everyone on Twitter who assured me that outlining before writing isn’t necessary for everyone. I really want to create a good book, but I need to feel through the story first before I know what the prize and final threshold will be for my character.

I think the most positive reinforcement of this writing with creative freedom is from Meg Cabot’s “Why I Don’t Outline:”

I will tell you why I think you can't write your book:


Yeah. You wrote your book in OUTLINE form. Now your brain—your muse—your creative story-telling impulse—WHATEVER it is that makes us want to write stuff down and share it with the world—is telling you that your job is done: you already shared your story. You're finished. There's nothing left to say because you already said it all.


I know outlining works for people and they have everything set up before they put pen to paper. I like impulse and creative juices flowing that lead me on a journey. Again, I have to agree with Cabot, “I think outlines are ideal for expository writing.”

When I have outlined, I’ve gotten to the middle, or first quarter of the book idea and then got to the writing. I never looked at the outline again. It wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t the same story that came out in my writing. Again, I think outlining and planning are better for editing, at least in my case.

And by the way, I’ve written 650 words of the story I’ve decided to work on for NaNo, a going back to something I had already written 30k words of before I was working a lot. My project before I got to NaNo was maybe 5K. Once NaNo started: 90.

That’s when I cried and declared I’d never try to write that book again.

So I think the trying to plan and work slowly and carefully doesn’t work with NaNo. It’s too much all at once. NaNo is more of a doodle session, plotting and outlining is adhere to guidelines. There can’t be any rules for doodling.

Lastly, my favorite quotes about writing well this past week was on Ally Carter's Twitter:

Can't stop thinking about how the biggest theme in the Publishing/Writing Ask Ally was basically surprise that writing a book is hard.

Really curious why so many people think writing a book should be easy. Let me assure you: it's not.

So if you're trying to write your first novel and it is taking a long time and really sucks: congratulations! You're doing it right!

This is why I think it's the NaNoWriMo that's put me off more than anything. I dunno...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Eve of All Hallows’ Eve

I’m I’m lying on the couch. I have been at the computer, in the computer chair, more than usual (sadly not working as much as playing Sims 3) and it’s caused my back to argue with me a bit. (Just a bit – I get this when I lean forward to see the screen easier. This is what got me into trouble to begin with.)

So tomorrow is Halloween, which is exciting. Still, since we don’t really go anywhere or do anything special on the day, it’s losing its majesty. I guess people who have kids to put in costumes and take out trick or treating have the most fun. Plus, there are ghost tours, Disney Halloween, Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, and the like. I’m sure there are things going on here but they’re usual kid stuff.

But no matter, the end of October means that November is starting on Friday. The start of November means the start of NaNoWriMo. I’m losing my excitement about that too.

I have an idea that was going around since before the holidays, so I’ve tried to organize it somewhat, do a character sketch, and get a good idea of how I want the book to go. It’s a bit more daunting than it’s ever been. I don’t have as much confidence in the story and I know it’s going to be hard. I plod through scenes. I haven’t been able to do word count goals as much because I’m trying to just make a scene that works. Usually I end up thinking I’ll just rewrite everything. I’m not sure about descriptions, and I’m not even sure I know where I want the story to go.

I’m thinking of chickening out, and working on an old idea for a story I had, and just doing the organic, feeling my way around in the dark kind of storytelling. Organization just isn’t my thing. I know people can plan out whole series of books before they start writing. I only have ideas, trying to get to an entertaining, logical end.

(I also had an awesome idea for sorta fan fiction, but I have no idea if that stuff is even marketable.)

I’ve been taking my writing class and webinar online, so I have a new perspective on my project. I don’t know if it’s confused me more, or given me better direction. When the time comes for me to get out that 1,667 words per day, will I be better prepared or just sit there, staring at a blank page in despair?

My NaNoWriMo profile is HERE. Feel free to add me as a friend if you’re participating.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Keep Calm and prepare for November

This will be a quick and dirty update since it’s Friday and I have to go to the chiropractor in about 30 minutes. (Yes, I still have to go each week.)

You know how NaNoWriMo is next month, and most people plot, plan, research, and get all ready for the big moment of truth? Well, I’m sort of doing that, but sort of not.

What I’ve changed this time is that I’ve signed up for an online writing class, been attending webinars, and even went to a writing workshop in the city. Doing this kind of work on your own is really lonesome, and I’ve accepted the fact that I do need opinions and encouragement from outside sources. I’ve also tried to look at my project in a different way. I no longer want to just jump in and race to the finish line. Now, I’m working on how the scenes will work, making some kind of outline (if you saw my tiny outline, you’d laugh at this statement), and knowing my character. This is all much, much easier with the deadlines and the tools and resources I’ve been using this month.

So, with that said, I’m keeping calm and getting on with everything. Nothing exciting or flashy other than reading a lot of books, and keeping my eye on the prize. I no longer just want to write something to say I’ve done it. I want to write the something well, and that is a slower (more rewarding) process.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

England, Autumn, and the Blahs

I wrote before about how hard this transition from holiday to home has been on me. Now both Steve and I are in a very “blah” state where we aren’t feeling this whole being back home thing. Yesterday we both decided that we’re slightly ill. He’s had a cough and body aches, I’ve had a headache and sneezing. I’ve had the difficulty sleeping, which some nights I lick, and some nights I can stay awake until 4AM. Steve’s been more tired as well and wanting to go to bed earlier than usual.

There’s nothing really exciting going on. The weather is that gloomy, cloudy business. I use to love Fall (or Autumn if you’re of the British persuasion) but I keep thinking that it’s going to be like this for four or five months. Bleh. Plus, there is no work to be seen, so I’ve not been out of the house in an employment capacity since July.

Also, the project I thought was going to be so great, just isn’t sitting right with me. Every time I write a scene, I know I’m going to have to rewrite or cut it. (Which I guess if fine because I was reading today that Maya Angelou writes ten pages and keeps two or three.) It’s frustrating, but I know that’s part of the job. I know I’m letting myself get in the way of getting something done too. I just want to get my teeth locked into to something, like I did with my other projects, but this one just doesn’t want to come alive, I’m afraid.

I have a Creative Writing degree, but I may get back into some workshops. I’ve been following some webinars online, just to try and jog my creative juices. It has given me plenty to think about as far as structure of the story, but when I sit down to write, like now, I end up staring out the window. I even have coffee, so I’m struggling. I also read this week that writer’s block is just having too much time on your hands. Wow, is that true.

Anyway, since I’ve been home, I’ve been bored with just everything. I’ve gone into town, I’ve read, I’ve tried to get back into the groove of daily life here. I’ve almost gotten it, but meh…the blahs are just too prevailing.

Twitter hasn’t had much discussion lately, I haven’t wanted to play GTA V, Saints Row IV, or Sims 3, and I’ve picked up tons of books, read a few pages, then set them down. I even tried getting back into Downton Abbey – I fell asleep. And so on, and so on.

I think the homesickness has just been increased since I haven’t been back for so long. My old hometown isn’t much to look at, but Florida itself, and America itself (despite all this stupid government crap that is one of the few reasons I hesitate living there), is great. Plus, it just gets pretty boring being at home every day alone, even if I do, presumably, have things to do. Oh well, I’ll get my groove back eventually.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Being organized and actually organizing

So, I went through a great webinar via Pen, Paper, Write last night and got some direction on how to structure my next (supposedly NaNoWriMo) project. The webinar discussed how to structure the novel and how to break up the scenes so they all work in conjunction to create a good, gripping story.

Great advice, yes, but man, does it make me nervous. I love the idea of organization, but when it comes to thinking what I want to happen in the story before actually writing it, it freaks me out. It also freaks me out to think that some days I’d just be plotting rather than actually writing (which makes me feel like I’ve had an unproductive day.)

But what I can get from my notes (the ones I’ve just printed out so I can take with me when I head out to the cafes to work), is that I can write each scene, and use the story structure idea of what I need to get to on the side. I’ve made outlines and they just fall apart, but the scene idea works better: I can see that. It just seems so daunting, but then again, breaking up each scene is a better way to go about the novel piece by piece.

Anyway, I’m sitting at home while Steve’s out on a work thing. I forget how absolutely dull and annoying living alone can be.

Ah, there’s the call. Time to pick him up. I do love having a car though.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Back in the U.K.

Our holiday in Florida was wonderful. While we were gone for two weeks we were able to:

  • Visit my parents
  • Go to Magic Kingdom
  • Stay at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Go to EPCOT
  • Partake in Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
  • Partake in EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival
  • Visit St. Augustine
  • Visit Fort Christmas
  • Hang out in Cocoa Beach and Titusville
  • Fed live gators after playing putt-putt golf

Now, with a busy agenda of something each day, we didn’t get to see any friends or other family members, which is a shame, but time just gets away from us too easily.

I was so happy to be back, especially since we’d been away for a whole year, and this time it was really, really hard to come back to England. I really liked being in such familiar surroundings, but with fresh, outsider eyes. I like being a tourist and an observer. It’s better than being in the middle of the whole place as it crumbles from unemployment all around me. Being here is a much better environment in many ways (I could give you a list on that topic) but being away from my folks, sunshine, abundance…it’s tough.

It’s still taken me a while to adjust to being here in the house by myself again each day. My sleep schedule is all off and I have an overwhelming case of the blahs. I’m slowly coming around to getting back to my projects at hand. Last night I looked over what I had left in one of my stories, and I was pleased to have something I thought I could get back to. Today, I’m trying to motivate myself to go to a cafe and get some words down again. I tried the other day, but only got a few sentences down. I’ve been really into reading The Shining though, so the days aren’t completely wasted.

Anyway, I thought I would have more to say on the topic, but I guess that’s it. I have to keep my head down and get back to work. Post vacation blues, are the worst.

Friday, September 13, 2013

That time of year again

Around this time, three years ago, Steve arrived in Florida for the week. We quickly obtained a marriage license, a suit, and a hotel room at the Polynesian Resort before our big day the following Monday.

Our anniversary is next week, and we will once again be heading across the pond. We’ll visit my parents, go to Disney, sit along Cocoa Beach, drive across Central Florida, and just enjoy being on our yearly holiday.

I am so happy to be going since we’ve just had a hard week with the wasps that will not go away, my not working because teachers don’t get tired of students until October, and my crazy scramble to find some contacts for the trip when Specsavers didn’t order them in time.

I had written a whole blog post about these incidences but, alas, I’m fully of worry and nerves about how many bugs are going to be in the flat while the cat and the cat sitter are here. I try not to get myself this distracted, but I can’t write, can’t read, can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t do anything without constantly wondering where the next wasp is going to show up. Luckily we only see one or two a day, but that’s still way too many. They’re coming in from somewhere downstairs and no matter how much we plug and seal off holes in the windows, walls, floors, or doorframes, they still just appear. Absolutely maddening.

So, yeah, escaping at this time of year is awesome. I want to come back refreshed and renewed and ready to prepare for supply teaching and NaNoWriMo. Honestly, the cabin fever of being in the house for six weeks without work is probably the main cause for my worry, but there’s nothing I can do about any of it. That’s the worst part. I cannot stand not being in control of a situation, and feeling absolutely helpless.

But, anyway, I’ve had my hair done, painted my toenails and fingernails, and found my list of things to take with me that we used last year. I just want to focus on being happy about the vacation, so I will. I will update when I can and get myself plenty of Instagram photos during the trip.

Florida, here we come!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Wasp killing and allergy attacks

I’m writing from the living room on the netbook. I have had an interesting last couple of days.
On Sunday morning, when the wind got a little colder, I awoke at 7AM to buzzing in my bedroom window. I sprayed him, and went back to bed. Then Steve said he heard another one. We taped up the window where there had been a gap that whistled when it was windy out. We thought we’d figured it out, so we went to McDonald’s for breakfast.
We came home, went to bed. Slept for a couple hours. Heard another bee. I sprayed that one, got up, went to the computer. Steve said there was another one. I sprayed it too. We spent all morning trying to figure out where they were coming from. We filled every crevice around the window we could find, even having one fly towards Steve as he investigated the window.
I was ready to cry by the time we had eight of them come in. We couldn’t figure out where/how they were getting there, and I even had to chase one (who started chasing me) that was aiming for the overhead light.
Finally, Steve figured out there was a soft spot in the wall next to the curtain rod. He shoved a ton of Blu-Tac in the crevice, and even said he could feel cold air coming from there. We could see the little buggers coming in, but didn’t know where they were coming out. After he plugged that hole, we didn’t seem to have anymore in the bedroom at all.
However, that didn’t convince me. I was totally freaking out; convinced I heard them everywhere, and knew I’d never be able to sleep in that room if I thought one would come back. Steve sweetly agreed to sleep on the couch with me all night.
Then I ended up with a cold. Well, I’m not sure if it’s a cold or an allergy attack from the wasp spray. Whatever it is, it started off with the chills before bed (a tale-tell sign for me) and then my eye felt itchy. Eventually, as the night progressed, my eye was red, puffy and irritated, and my nose was runny. Steve has been sick with a virus that the doctor said just needed to run its course, so I’m wondering if that’s what is going on with me too. I slept on the couch all yesterday and today. We finally slept in bed last night without incident, but I’m much more content on this couch.
Sunday night we called an exterminator who said they’d put us in as “urgent” but they didn’t call back until noon, so I arranged for another guy to come (whom I’m waiting for now) and help us out. He said that if these things are living in the eaves of the windows, they’re wasps, not bees.
Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! As if that buzzing wasn’t creepy enough, now I can’t even think of them as cute little bees? Blech! Kill them! Get them outta here! Pronto!
I saw the first one outside my computer room window in April or so and I haven’t been able to keep my window open since then. We’ve had them coming in all summer and I’m tired of it. It’s driving me crazy and keeping me from getting anything done now because I’m worried about them all the stinking time.
I really would be useless during a zombie apocalypse. Just give me a bubble to live in.
UPDATE:  It’s 11PM and the exterminator has been here. I showed him the computer room window out back and he agreed that it was odd that our window was their choice in the whole building and the eave has a big gap above the window and he said that needed to be solid. We’ll have to get that sorted this winter.
Anyway, so the guy asked if the window opened because he wanted to go into the house, open the window, and kill them from there. I took him back to the computer room, let him move the electronics around and let him have at them. He had this crazy bee keeper type suit, and he just pumped poison dust up in the hive and shooed the wasps back outside when they tried to come inside. Only one was in the room that he swatted before he left, and when Steve and I got home, one was half dead in the kitchen window.
They were all mad outside, which the exterminator said will last for an hour, then it would be over. By the time we got back home, there was no swarming around the window anymore either. Apparently the only reason they tried to get into the house via the bedroom window was because they’re just trying to find their hive and get confused. A window is a window.
Stupid wasps.
Anyway, I’m so, so happy that they’ve been poisoned and I’ll keep checking on them to see how long this takes for them to get gone completely.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 31

I skipped yesterday. Totally forgot. I had a photo to use for the sign theme [HERE] too but I just didn’t even remember to do it. I was busy editing and trying to keep myself awake long enough to get some work done before bed last night.

Today was a pretty leisurely day. We walked into town (a new routine we’ve had the last couple of weekends – really helps my back to exercise like that) and Steve ordered a pair of sunglasses from Specsavers. I forgot to bring my glasses to have them adjusted though. I always end up getting them too lose, so they fall down my nose. It must be from wearing them while I lie on the couch on my side.

Anyway, it’s technically the first of September here in the U.K. School will start Monday, which is so fitting because it’s begun to feel autumnal outside. Sunny with a crisp breeze. Even the living room was chilly today and I wore a cardigan out. Wow.

Better than stifling heat in here though.

This month will be our anniversary and my birthday as well. Exciting times!

Anyway, August has been good. I got a lot of what I wanted to get done, and I really enjoyed the photo prompts for the blog posts. I’ll have to look up another challenge for September or October too.

The August Break 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 29

I would have really loved to post this from the computer,  but my netbook is just not agreeing with me at all tonight.

Today I rested a lot. Still not feeling 100% and even when I tried to edit the last project,  I just couldn't. It's in a pile now to be forgotten about.

We watched The Host tonight. It was boring and didn't really make much sense.  (Why do aliens need guns, chrome Lotuses,  and even Earth at all?) I don't recommend it, though I hear the book gets more interesting.

That's it for today. I had to choose my favourite things as the photo theme today. Finishing a good book is one of them. I may make a list later.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 28

You know, ladies, those emotional, hormonal days when you feel like you’re crazy? Those days when you think you want to either cry, or sit in a dark room and each 100 Kit Kat bars, or both? Yeah, that was me today. I haven’t slept as much either because of my Ginseng and determination kick, but tonight after dinner I finally took a nap. My brains thanked me.
I didn’t work at all today other than look up ideas of how I want my YA Horror/Mystery project to go. Tomorrow I want to take that bus ride and get out of the house for a while. I’m almost finished with Mockingjay, so I’d like to read that over a nice frappuccino.
My parents got the proof copy of The Cupcake Witches in the mail from CreateSpace today. I know they’re proud (they don’t care about self publishing vs small press). I figured it was easier to send it to their US address too. Very quick turn out rate, I might add. I only ordered that 3 days ago. We still haven’t gotten the cover right with the dimensions. If we do this for a second book, I’m sticking with a solid color background. The little cupcake emblem on the bottom is cut off and there was no color to put on the back that matched the orange in the image we did. *sigh*
Also, I tried to find some info on a new, local salon. I was calling places to ask if I need a silly patch test for allergies before I get anything done, but one place said just to come in for a consultation and one didn’t answer the phone. I can’t stand going through all this. If I didn’t know if would look like crap, I’d just guy some Avon color from my neighbor and do it myself.
I got a call today from one of the new teaching agencies, saying they may have something for me at an English Department being a permanent support teacher. Not sure what all the details are, but I guess they’re putting my CV forward for that one. Nice to know that work may be coming my way right at the beginning of the school term. Amazing that just having a driver’s license helped my employability that much.
The August Break 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 27

BBC’s The One Show is filming their Summer Festival at The Sage today and tomorrow. I really want to be nosey and check it out tomorrow, since I was over there too late this evening.

Today I finished my current project. I say finished as it was at the end, I saw the end, I sprinted to the end. It’s 40,000 words. So, it’s a Young Adult horror novella, I guess. My idea now is that I can take it and use it as a theme for a series since my main goal for starting the book in the first place was to make my own Fear Street.

Of course, once I was done, I felt yucky. Not good, not pleased with myself, just bad. Like depressed because I don’t know what to do with the stupid thing. I can edit and query, I guess, and just keep on as if I’m going to self publish. I know being a published author, traditionally, is the dream goal, but I want a readership. I want people to like what I write. One day I want some awesome hardcover novels with my name on them gracing the proud shelves of book bloggers.

But that doesn’t happen all at once, so I’ll just keep on keeping on. I wanted to get set on my next project anyway, so I think I’ll get out of the house tomorrow, do some research and some coffee drinking, and let my mind go free for a bit.

I don’t want to hate the horror book, but I know what problems I have to address. I’m still thinking it’s just not worth querying about. I’ve read too many “sorry, submissions are closed” on small press sites anyway, and the ones I can submit too don’t seem to do young adult fiction. *shrug* Looks like it’s just up to me anyway.

Anyway, I picked up Steve, came home, ate a bunch of cookies, and stopped worrying about said book. If it’s not a masterpiece, so what? It’s all part of the biggest process. The whole writer thing is a minefield anyway because everyone wants to be the next big thing.

I wonder if this is how athletes, actors, lawyers, and singers feel.

The August Break 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 26

Per the current discussion about small press vs self published: I am fairly sick of the smugness that comes from authors who are “traditionally” published. If their book was put online and on shelves of some indie bookstores by a small press that didn’t bother paying a decent artist to work on their cover, they have no real right to be condescending to anyone else. It’s even worse when their book is tips on writing or self publishing. And why tell us how to market when your blog looks crappy and out-dated? Get a decent, basic theme and run with it. It doesn’t take much, but if it isn’t living up to these grandiose claims you have for yourself, get lost.

If you’ve made money, fine. Have fun. But unless you have a bang on cover and a decent readership, and have really done an extraordinary job with your novel you can put the condescension away, kids.

And no, we won’t hire you to edit our book with that attitude. I don’t know why people complain about clients’ work, then expect people to go, “Wow, he/she is really honest, I’ll pay them hundreds of dollars to talk bad about me after I submit my work too!”

But the rest of you who are just happy to be keeping on and doing your thing; you’re cool.

This, of course, has come from days of researching the matter online, it’s to no on in particular and certainly not to anyone I communicate with regularly. You’re all cool too. Honestly, I have found the people in my “Peeps” list to be very willing to help and encourage. I appreciate that so much (especially since I can be a right pain with the questions some days.)

I am totally all for traditional publication. I will query when my work is ready. Maybe. I understand the “Who cares? I have a publisher!” attitude. I just don’t think that a lot of these books merit much “Anything you can do, I can do better” taunt.

Plus, I promise I’ll talk less about writing once I go back to school.

Per the picture above: We took a nice ride on our bikes around the park today. It’s only been my third bike ride in the UK, so I’m not doing as well on the hills. I’m also not too keen on going on the street just yet either (I’ve seen how people drive on them already. People wander over in the bike line without a care in the world.)

But the day was so nice and everyone was out due to the Bank Holiday. I’m so glad Steve encouraged me to get out to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. He bought me an ice cream again today but I kept a hold of it and none of it got on my clothes. A+ Day!

Next week I will be free to do my thing at home again. I have 25k words left to go and I’m not sure if it will end short of that. It very well may be a novella, which is fine by me. I just want it done and out of the way.

The August Break 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 25

My theme was “Sunday Morning” but since I don’t get up on Sunday mornings, I just chose to use the photo I took yesterday with St. Nicholas Cathedral in the background. I took this from on top of the Tyne Bridge on our walk yesterday. Such a cool street there.

To go along with the top of self vs traditional publishing, I went on #writechat tonight. Someone was saying that authors have gotten picked up by traditional publishers after their self published novel had done well for a couple of years. (Not any of the big names we hear about all the time, btw.) I’m not sure if it all has to do with the genre fiction that does better self published as well, but someone else was saying that they’d never self pub fiction, only non-fiction. I asked if their non-fiction had a smaller readership than their traditionally published fiction, but I didn’t get an answer on that one.

So, the idea of small press came up. The first person who was selling self-publishing to me, said that small press can get you publicity and promotion. Fair enough, but I will go ahead and put this out there: I’ve seen some crappy looking books on small press websites. I even spoke with an author in a bookstore in Newcastle once who said their book was picked up by a major publisher. The book looked terrible and I felt embarrassed for the guy. If I were accepted by a small print press, I would run the risk of having a horrible looking book with my name on it.

No. Thank. You.

I think it brings me back to the bottom line. While I’m working towards perfecting a novel, the ones that I’m sure would not be picked up by a decent publisher will be done by myself. I can hire an editor, fine, and thankfully I have my illustrator and cover artist at home. I would rather have control over what I was doing, rather than have something janky sitting around at sad, local book events, making me wish I’d never bothered.

And, yes, I’ve looked into publishers allowing you to use your own illustrators and cover designs. The answer is always, “No. We like to chose the artist for you.”

Again. No. Thank. You.

Of course, the whole self promotion is something I don’t get. Everyone on Twitter hates tweets with “Buy My Book!” Someone told me to go to Tumblr, but amidst the Doctor Who and Harry Potter animated GIFs, I don’t know how well that will work either.

But for the rest of Sunday we hung out at home. I got my word count quota in for today, and before dinner I played more Saints Row IV. I’m not digging the supernatural aspect of it. I like car games, so when I get through the initial quests, I’ll probably just mess around the world like I usually do. That’s always more fun.

We also just watched Wreck-It Ralph. What a cute movie! I’m so glad Steve got me into watching cartoon again and learning how they create the stories. They’re always such good examples of strong characters, worlds, and storylines.

Anyway, tomorrow is our Bank Holiday, so we may go out for a bike ride or a stroll. Who knows?

The August Break 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 24

Took a walk into City Centre to get exercise today. I’ve been in this computer chair a lot more than usual and my back gives me little signals that it’s had enough.

We were looking for one of the food festivals, but we found nothing going on except Match Day, so we stayed out of the rain in the Burger King. Afterwards, we bought Saints Row IV, which Steve and I have been playing for the evening. It was just going to be an add-on to Saints Row III, but they made a whole new game out of it. Pretty fun, but a lot like the last one. I missed the driving and shooting; I am not the greatest at aiming though, so I get frustrated really easily with missions.

That’s about all for today, honestly. I didn’t do a dang thing for writing, which is going to amp my daily word count goal considerably. I’m usually too tired to even read much at night, so tomorrow is going to have to be catch up time.

The August Break 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 23

I had to post my “sacred” picture straight from Instagram today because Flickr doesn’t seem to be working.

I got my reasonable word count done today, but I messed around on the computer as well and my back wasn’t happy about being in this chair for too long. I’ll need to walk around more this weekend.

I was talking to people on Twitter today about traditional versus self publishing. While I know everyone would like a book deal and the validation that they’re work is good, is it really necessary? I have only ever looked into submitting work as short stories before, so querying for a novel was something I’d only skimmed before. Today I was reading submission guidelines that wanted the query and first two chapters but not to send attachments unless invited to do so. I was told on Twitter that publishing companies are afraid of viruses, so they don’t accept them.

Um…NASA allows attachments in emails. You know how freaking high that security is?

I guess it’s easier for them to skim and not have emails just going straight to the junk folder but, really, if that’s one of the requirements, aren’t we already treading on out dated ground? As Vivian Tuffnell was saying, publishers aren’t necessary anymore. They’re old news because anyone can work hard, get their work ready for an audience, and make money from the sales without begging a publisher to so it for them. She also told me that not all agents are worth the time to even bother with.

What’s nice is the option. Yes, we all would love a publishing deal, a six figure income, a movie deal, etc. Or we can just write and produce the best quality work we can. That’s a huge relief.

Granted their is stigma, and I understand that. I come from a long tradition of literary snobbery and, frankly, some indies I’ve seen look awful. But some aren’t that bad. Plus, if you know for sure that publishers aren’t going to be into your “I’m not Twilight” novel, then is it really worth waiting around for months to get a rejection letter instead of just throwing your book up on Amazon and getting on with the next project? (Yes, I know you can work while waiting on a publisher, but, again, is it really worth it?)

If I really had something that I thought would dazzle an agent, I’d bother, but this project I’m trying to finish is just an odd story, so I’m guessing the first two chapters I cut and paste in my email will be quickly disregarded.

Anyway, it was a good conversation and I like Twitter when issues like this pop up. I like hearing other people’s experiences and viewpoints on the topic.

Lastly, movies:

City of Bones got 13% on Rotten Tomatoes. (Why can’t anyone make a decent movie from a young adult book?)

I tried to watch District Nine but it was way too gory for me. (Steve finally turned it off because it was freaking me out in parts.)

Ben Affleck is Batman and I don’t care. (People complained about Man of Steel already, so what’s the big deal?)

The August Break 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 21

This morning Steve was coughing a lot, as if he wasn’t completely over the cold that had kept him home one day last week. He decided to stay and work at home today, poor thing.

I had an appointment in Sunderland to sign up for another teaching agency. This will be probably the twelfth agency I’ve signed up with (and I only get work from two of them, mind you). I agreed to register with this place though because the guy working there had called me twice about trying to get my resume forward for two jobs already before even meeting with me.

Instead of driving today, I chose to take the bus and Metro. I like the option of it, especially when I’m going somewhere that has very convenient stops for public transportation. I left Steve at home and ventured out with my tote bag full of official documents, Mockingjay (I swear, that book is more disturbing than the first one in a lot of way), the AlphaSmart (which I didn’t get to use, but I like having it close by), and a newspaper announcing the birth of Prince George that I sent to my friend Kelly in Florida.

Since they’re doing construction on everything, including the Metro, here, I ended up getting to Sunderland right on time. I met with the agency guy who said he could pay me more and try to get me Primary School work. Both sound good, but, of course, I’m dubious because these places never seem to pan out. But, anyway, I gave it a go.

On the way back, I stopped off at the Monkwearmouth Station Museum out of curiosity. It was used as far back as Edwardian times but I only stayed long enough to nose around the main building; I didn’t go to the outside exhibit. It was still really cool because, again, things this old fascinate me since anything in Florida is old if it was built in the 1960s.

I turned back after that, sent my newspaper in the mail, and returned home to serve up some chicken noodle soup for Steve. I didn’t go to Weight Watchers tonight either because once I’m in the house I have a hard time leaving again. At least I have my new Points Plan book that I got when I signed back up last week.

Needless to say, I didn’t get any work done, but I have all day tomorrow, Friday, and the three day weekend to do things and get my project done on time.

The August Break 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 20

Stayed home today to get more things done. Didn’t work too much on the next project, as I know I’m not supposed to, and did my 1,300 words for current work in progress so it can meet its September something deadline.

I’m really at the “I hate this story and so will everyone else” point, but, I’ll get it done.

I also watched some of The White Queen and noticed that I don’t need naps as much as I did. I’ve been taking the Vitamin B as well as the Ginseng, Ginkgo and Guarana supplements. I swear, they’re doing better than coffee ever did.

The August Break 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 19

Another day of getting stuff done. I actually started the day off working on something that I hadn’t thought about for long (a glorious error to many, I’m sure) but it was so clear and nice in my head, I just had to get some notes down. When I worked a lot (too much) on that, I finally watched Ghost Adventures and got my 1,300 words done for the project that Will. Get. Done.

After picking Steve up from work, I hit a curb at a roundabout because taxi drivers are not to be trusted. I don’t know if they were or weren’t going to go in the lane I have to aim for when coming back from the Quayside, but I wasn’t about to swerve over until they were long gone.

It’s a dangerous world when it comes to roundabouts and taxis.

Tonight we had roast dinner again as we usually do on Sundays, but since we were out yesterday, we ate our mash and gravy tonight while watching Jimmy Fallon, as we do during dinner. Then for our movie night, Steve chose Chronicle which was really good and I highly recommend it. It’s short and has a nice, tight plot. The characters are teens who obtain superpowers and they learn what all they can do with them. It turns innocent until the troubled one of the trio has things to deal with at home and at school.

I’ll leave you with the trailer and bid you all good night!

The August Break 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 18

Steve and I took a walk down to the Quayside and met up with an old friend of his from work at The Baltic. We wandered around, looking at the art for a while, then we walked back through Ouseburn to The Cluny for a couple of pints and Sunday lunch. So good!

We chatted about American and English differences because Steve’s friend is going off to work in the U.S. soon. He knows all the problems with Visas and oversees qualifications that don’t transfer in other countries. I was asked if my chosen profession was writing (I admit, I was pleased to let him in on the little side project of illustrated young adult books.) I said that and supply teaching. That’s my thing. I guess I may as well admit it to people.

We also discussed how the Internet has caused people to have some kind of hindrance on their own creation. Someone has already created something you may have wanted to create on your own and naively carried it out until you were finished. Now you can find out quite easily how someone already had your idea and made something similar, hence defeating you before you can begin. It use to be that people could go about their lives without having to know everything about what everyone was doing. Now our world is much, much smaller. That’s good and bad.

After lunch we walked down on the Quayside and Steve bought us all ice creams. Of course my klutziness caused me to drop my cone as he handed it to me and I had the remnants of a 99 and raspberry sauce all over my jeans. Oh well. It all washed off.

Once we got back home, I had walked a ton, eaten a ton (minus the ice cream) and was so ready for a nap. Consequentially none of my word count was completed today, but it was “living my life” day, so that’s fine.

The August Break 2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 17

I didn’t think I would do as well as I did today on my word count, but I got over 2,000 words down today. I used Write or Die this afternoon, then this evening, I sat on the couch and did the rest with my AlphaSmart. I’ll tell you why this works so well: no distractions. I don’t have any alerts on my spelling, and even if the sentence structure is a bit wonky, and I fix it up, it’s not the whole page, looking at me, waiting to be fixed. I can keep going. There’s less to muddle up the lines between imagination and typing. I really needed something like this.

We’re still getting through Season 3 of Walking Dead on Channel 5. Now, I’m a whiner when it comes to shows a lot of times, but I really like this one. I like the characters, and I like the shows ability to make me and Steve sit upright and scream at the television. I use to do that with Lost and I dearly miss being involved with a show like that.

So, that’s that for today. Steve did a lot of cleaning. I did some laundry and worked on said project. I’m really aiming for September for a 1st draft completed goal because I have three projects sitting there half done and I need this one done (even though I sat there today doing the same old, “But is this really a good story? Is this even the one I should be working on?” crap.) Ugh. I hate that second guessing stuff.

The August Break 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 16

Only got half of my word count down today. I’m at the point where I know stuff needs to get going, but I don’t want to rush anything. I think I’m going to have to re-plot the rest of it. At least I know how I want the thing to end, so I have a main goal.

I didn’t go swimming today. I was this afternoon before my chiropractor appointment, but that stupid nauseated feeling from not having enough food thing started up. While I was doing Weight Watchers last year, I slept in on Sunday and hadn’t eaten for 12 hours. I ended up collapsing in the shower; dizzy and trying to throw up. I had a bite of banana and it went away immediately. Scary stuff. I went to the doctor and had my blood tested but everything was fine. When you search online about being nauseated from not eating, it’s usually hypo glycaemia, but I don’t have that.

On Saturday I had porridge and a banana and ended up feeling sick to my stomach a few hours later. Today the same thing happened and, again, the moment I have food, it goes away and I’m fine again. When we did our grocery shopping tonight I made sure to get plenty of fruit and sandwich makings. When I first had the stupid acid reflux problems about five years ago, it helped to have a bunch of smaller meals. I think I’m going to have to go that route again.

Tomorrow we’re going to have a nice leisurely day and maybe head to the pool together again. I’ll have to get my word count and plot organization all fixed up too.

The August Break 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 15

So tired. I’m taking less naps, which is good, and I put some writing advice I read today to heart and started a timesheet with my deadlines and word count. Someone on Twitter tonight was saying I should write 10,000K a day as the book I was reading suggests but, man, I just don’t know if I could do that any time soon. I mean, if I did, I’d have a book done in a week. I can’t even wrap my head around that concept.

Anyway, I did work today and I also got a call from my doctor’s office (which scared the crap out of me), but they just said my test results indicate that whenever there are any future children, I have to advice the midwife that I carry a strep virus that could pass to a baby. Very weird. But it makes me more confident in the NHS because we’re no where near readying for children but already they’re being taken care of. Nice feeling.

Tomorrow is chiropractor day which should also be swimming day though I really, really don’t want to. Last time it was too busy and exercise is just a hassle. Granted, when I feel like going to the gym and jumping on an elliptical machine I feel better, but swimming makes me tired. It’s a tough exercise to keep up for 30 minutes; especially when you’re dodging children out on summer break who love to splash their friends in the pool.

And so, with the night at a close, it’s time for bed-readying. Hope tomorrow is a good, even more productive day.

The August Break 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 14

Super quick post because I played Sims before blogging and now I’m late for bed again.

Today I went to my Nurse to pick up a prescription, went home and did 1600 words in spurts on AlphaSmart 3000 while on the couch.

Signed up with Weight Watchers again, but that’s cool. It’s better than doing nothing. I haven’t been since this time last year, so it’s time to get back to the portion control and point counting. Yay. (Insert Sarcasm Sign.)

Tomorrow is another glorious day of staying at home and getting stuff done. Until then!

The August Break 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 13

Today’s theme was home, which worked fine for me because I’ve been here for two days (minus the times I go out to pick up Steve.) While I got 2000 words done yesterday, I was only at 1800 today. I know I should stick to the one project and get it done. I know I should just write notes at the bare minimum for any other project, then file it away for later, but I haven’t. I wrote on two things today. Bad. I know. I have to stop.

So, after I did my bit of wordage, I played Sims 3 (as seen above with my little teacher’s apple.) I feel bad even wanting to play games or do anything non-productive too, so I have to stay away from that stupid thing tomorrow as well. Sadly I have errands to run tomorrow, so I won’t be able to lock myself in the house to get stuff done.

I did collect some more links for today’s post as well:

I loved the second article because it does stress how, well, stressful the whole publishing process is. It’s a lot of work, just as anyone goes to work, it’s not just a fun day at home eating bonbons or writing in the Moleskin at Starbucks, as she points out. Plus, I always remember Anne Lamott saying that once you’re published, it’s not over. You aren’t done. It’s just a step in your career.

And now it's time for me to get the laundry dried, take a shower, and talk to my parents before settling down in bed with my book. Night, all!

The August Break 2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

#AugustBreak2013 Day 12

I just tried to take this photo out of the front window and it’s the best I can do. The sad thing about photography is that it never captures exactly what you’re seeing.

Today I did very well. Mondays are usually good for me because I’m rested and refreshed from the weekend, and I’m ready to work. I made myself stay in and get 2,023 words written of a middle grade project. I’m happy that I didn’t get distracted and I got a decent amount of work done (for me.)

I was thinking about Capote’s preface in Music for Chameleons where he talks about potential:

There were too many areas where I was not writing as well as I could, where I was not delivering the total potential. Slowly, but with accelerating alarm, I read every word I’d ever published, and decided that never, not once in my writing life, had I completely exploded all the energy and aesthetic excitements that material contained. Even when it was good, I could see that I was never working with more than half, sometimes only a third, of the powers at my command. Why?

I don’t think I’ve ever worked to my greatest potential on anything because I’m such a procrastinator by nature. I’ve tried to chalk it up to ADD or a perfectionist nature, or anything that would explain why I don’t give it my all, all the time; especially when I want to. I don’t know if it’s lack of belief in the work, or myself, or what it is, but it’s freaking annoying.

If only they really had a drug like on Limitless without the adverse side effects. Oddly enough, Bradley Cooper’s character wrote a book, then moved on to other, important things. I think I’d stick to the books. I at least take my vitamins each day to help stimulate my brains. I’m really not sure how much they help, or if it’s just the combination of rest, reading, and coffee consumption.

And because people love animated GIFs, I’m adding one.


I’ve also been looking for more middle grade books to read since I only have a few under my belt. Again, I’m not gung-ho on the fantasy genre, so I’m trying to find cute, girlie books for my Kindle. I’ll post my list to bookblogarama this Friday for Friday Finds.

The August Break 2013