Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Here's to the future...

It was my 25th birthday on Saturday. I meant to write a post beforehand, but I was too caught up in the last day of school and then celebrating my actual birthday.

The Engineer surprised me on Saturday morning - he'd decorated the house the night before and put up a banner and some balloons, and then he made me pancakes for breakfast (this was actually a request from me but he did it without complaining, bless him). I spent the day with my uni friend who travelled up from London - we went into the city to do all our Christmas shopping (and I actually managed to get everything I wanted - result!) and then the Engineer picked us up later on and we all went out for pizza. While I was off doing having some well-earned girl time, he'd stayed at home and baked a birthday cake for me - I have to admit that he does have his good points ;).

I had such a fantastic day. I love birthdays anyway - not just mine, I get super-excited about everyone's birthdays - but I felt truly blessed this year. Over the past few years, I seem to have developed rather a negative mindset - I assume people don't want to talk to me, or don't like me, or they don't care, or they're having so much fun in their own lives that they've forgotten all about me - not just around birthdays, I mean everyday too. I know this is a terrible mindset to have but when you deal with anxiety and bouts of depression, it just becomes the norm - for me at least. But this year, I felt humbled by all the birthday wishes I received. Everyone who's important in my life either called me up, or left me a Facebook message, or sent me a text or sent me a card or an email - and at the end of the day, that's all that matters. That the people that I love and cherish most in this world are always there for me. I just need to remember that more often.

I thought that I'd feel really depressed about turning 25. When I was younger, I had so many visions and daydreams about what I would achieve by the time I reached 25. I would have a book deal with a major publisher, my book would be a major film, I'd be a huge success and have loads of money. I'm not afraid to admit this to you - I'm simply being honest. And you know what? It makes me smile to think about all my hopes and dreams. Sometimes life doesn't turn out quite the way you expect, but that's okay. Just because I'm not exactly where I want to be right now, doesn't mean I never will be. I have loads of time to accomplish everything I want to achieve. And because I know I'm willing to work hard to make my dreams come true, I know I'll get there in the end, no matter what age I am. Maybe my books will never get turned into films - so? Maybe I won't ever get a book deal - so what? I love self-publishing!

Turning 25 has brought me a kind of peace. Yes, I'm not where I want to be career-wise, but also, I'm so willing to work hard and keep writing. Nothing will ever stop me doing that. Whatever life throws at me, I'll roll with it. That's part of the beauty of life. Also, at the risk of sounding disillusioned, I have this sense that 2016 is going to be a good year. I can feel it in my bones. I'm struggling to explain why I feel this way - but the last time I felt this good about a year, it was 2009, and I remember telling myself on New Year's Day, '2009 is going to be my year.' In 2009, I moved out, went to university, and met the Engineer, after finally giving up and thinking that I'd never fall in love (how's that for teenage angst ;)!). So, I hope my premonition for 2016 will turn out to be right too. (Although, it's already going to be a great year because I'm getting married to the aforementioned Engineer in July).

I hope this new-found peace and sense of contentment lasts - I'm going to need it when my depressive state returns in January/February, like it usually does. But for now, I'm filled with a sense of peace and goodwill - I'm heading up north to spend Christmas with my family and I can't wait to see them again. Today has been spent wrapping presents and making gingerbread. Tomorrow, I'll be making two special Christmas cakes and some cookies for various family members' Christmas presents, before heading up to see my parents.

I probably won't be around much over the next week or so, as I intend on enjoying this holiday to it's fullest. So whether you feel like this about Christmas:


Or like this:

All that remains is for me to wish you all a Merry Christmas - I hope it's filled with all your favourite things, no matter what you get up to - and all the best for New Year. Roll on 2016! It's going to be a good one!

Merry Christmas!

What are your plans for this festive season? Do you ever get a sense about whether or not you'll have a good year? Have you set any writing goals for the New Year?

Monday, 14 December 2015

Author Interview with Murees Dupe!

I'm honoured to welcome the lovely Murees Dupe on my blog today to talk about her amazing book, The Amaranthine. I loved interviewing her, as she truly is an amazing author and a lovely person - enjoy!

Hey Murees! First of all, can you tell us a little bit about your novel, The Amaranthine?
At the heart of it all, it’s a love story. True love does conquer all. Claire is a human misfit that never belonged anywhere. When she meets Alex, she realizes there is more to her than she first thought. He shows her a new way to live and she really grows into her own. All while her relationship with Alex intensifies.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I liked the bickering between Alex and Claire. I feel like their relationship has blossomed right in front of my very eyes. Their relationship is romantic, but not sappy. At least I don’t see it that way.

Where did the inspiration for the Thelum series come from?
I’ve always been a bit of a loner. So, naturally, when I got to write my own stories, I wanted a world where someone like me would fit in. But mostly I like the idea of a world where anything and everything is possible.

How many books are you planning in the series?
I’m planning to have the series go on indefinitely. Hopefully I will always have great ideas:)

Alex and Claire have a bit of a tempestuous relationship - what can we expect to see from them in the future?
I don’t think they will ever get to the stage where they are absolutely smitten. They will always have a love/ hate relationship, just more civilized. But . . . a happy ending is possible:)

Who's your favourite character from The Amaranthine?
Claire, hands down. She’s awesome. I wish she could be my friend.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on the next book in the Thelum Series, possibly called The Ancestor. The story continues with Alex and Claire, right where book 1 ended. Lots of exciting things to come.

What would your one piece of advice be, for anyone who's thinking about self-publishing/writing their first book?
First, know exactly what you want to accomplish. When you know, go for it. No matter what, keep believing in yourself and keep going until you reach your goal. Also, love of writing is essential.

And finally...here's a quickfire round!

Winter or summer?
Winter. I can’t stand heat.

Night in or night out?
Night in. No doubt.

Cake or chocolate?

Books or films?
Films? It really depends on my mood.

Night or day?

Cats or dogs?
Both. Please don’t make me choose.

Tea or coffee?
Chai tea only.

Three things you can't live without:
My family, my pets and writing.

What keeps you awake at night?
Everything and anything. I tend to worry too much.

Describe yourself in three words:
Stubborn, passionate and moody.

Thanks for stopping by Murees!
Thank you so much for having me. It’s always a pleasure and honour.

About the author:
Murees Dupé was born and still lives in South Africa. When she is not thinking up new stories, she is spending time with her family, playing with her three dogs and cat, watching TV, or overindulging on desserts.

You can find out more about Muree's awesome book, The Amaranthine, or check out Murees' blog here!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Bitten by the writing bug...

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen over the weekend I was struck by inspiration for a certain scene while I was taking a shower (what is it about showers and being hit with inspiration to write?? Is it because you can't physically get to a computer/pen and paper??). I wasn't planning on doing much writing over the weekend as I wasn't feeling my best, but I thought I might as well write it down and see what happened.

All I can say is wow.

I don't know what's been going on in my subconscious brain, but once I wrote that scene I just couldn't stop. All weekend I've been thinking about this particular character and his story. I've been mapping out his world, other major characters have popped into my head (almost) fully formed, and incredibly, I already know how I want the story to end. I spent most of my free time on Sunday doing research into the kind of world I want to set this story in and making up names for the different places. It was insane.

Last night I couldn't sleep - mainly because I was too warm (there's something I never thought I'd say in December), but also because this character literally wouldn't get out of my brain. So I started writing - again. My laptop wasn't to hand so I wrote out another scene on my phone, as well as making as many notes as I could, while my brain fired them off at me almost too fast for me to process. I finally had to stop - I thought I was being all quiet and covert, until the Engineer rolled over and wanted to know what I was doing as the light my my phone was keeping him awake. So I grudgingly had to call it a day. But all day at work today I've been looking at the clock, itching to come home so I can get writing again.

I don't have a proper outline for this novel. I don't even have any kind of plan. If you've been following my blog, you'll know how unusual this is for me, but I can't explain it - having no plan just feels...right. I don't know all the ins and outs of this story yet, but the excitement I get when I think about discovering more about this world is just amazing. All I'm planning to do is write whatever scenes pop into my head and just roll with it. In fact, I might even draw a map of this new world tonight, which again, is something I've never done before but I'm so excited to try out. Luckily, the Engineer is away on business until Thursday, so this week I'm literally just planning on writing as much of this story as I can, while this inspiration and enthusiasm lasts.

At this moment, I don't even know if I'm going to turn this into a full novel. I might get halfway through and realise it's not working, or that I've run out of steam. But strangely, this doesn't make me want to stop. If anything, I want to write more. Because even if this ends up being nothing, I'll still be a better writer than I was before I started writing it - after all, practice makes perfect! And there's something incredibly liberating about writing simply for yourself - it's like there are no limitations on what I can or can't write, because at this moment in time, I'm not planning on sharing it with anyone.

So that's my news - I've got my tea and my cake and I'm off to write until I can't prop my eyes open anymore (which may be sooner than I'd like, as I barely got any sleep last night). But despite how tired I am, I still can't wait to get going!

Hope you're all having a good Monday!

Have you been bitten by the writing bug recently? Have you ever thought of a story that you simply HAD to write right then and there? How's your writing going this week?

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

December IWSG: Hitting the pause button

Welcome to another Insecure Writer's Support Group post! If you'd like to check out the list of participants, and discover more about this awesome group, you can check out the official IWSG website here.

I can't believe it's been a month already - where has the time gone??

In all honesty, I've been struggling with my writing this month. I don't think I've actually touched my WIP for about three weeks. It's frustrating not being able to write, but I do have (kind of) valid reasons. Mentally, I haven't been in the best place for the past few weeks - today has been better, but I'm not completely out of the woods yet, unfortunately.

But that's not my main reason for not writing - a few weeks ago I mentioned about how I was trying to juggle work, writing and doing house renovations, and wondering if I would have to give something up in order to get something else done. Well, in the end, it was my writing that I've chosen to put on hold for a little while. It's not a decision I've taken lightly - I still think of writing as being a business, and I know that if I want to be successful, I've got to work on it. However, my fiancé and I have been having a few discussions lately about life and what we want out of it. I don't want to give anything away, just in case it doesn't come off and I end up being disappointed, but at this stage, we got some very exciting (albeit tentative) plans for after our wedding next year. And in order for those plans to work, we need to get the house completely finished so it's ready rent out by the summer. As you can probably guess, this means that at this moment in time I've had to hit the pause button on my writing and instead focus on finishing the house. Which means that instead of coming home and sitting down with a cup of tea and writing for a few hours, instead I'm coming home and picking up a paintbrush and working most of my evenings.

Could I balance my writing with my house renovations a bit better? Maybe. I could always do one night on, night off and alternate between the two, but if I'm completely honest, I'd rather direct all my energies into one thing at a time. The plans my fiancé and I have is basically something I've wanted to do since I fifteen - and I know that if I don't do everything I can make it a reality, I'll regret it. I'm not giving up on my writing, no way - it's still the career I want more than anything in the world, and I'm never going to give up. In fact, I've been thinking of plot twists and the story structure for my second book while working on the house, so I guess that's a good thing. This weekend my fiancé is going out for the day on Saturday, so I've made a promise to myself that if I finish painting the stairs by the weekend, I can spend Saturday writing - I can't wait!

So that's my news. That's also why I haven't been quite as active online lately, although I am hoping to change that. I'm going to try and post up some photos of the house in the next few weeks too :).

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

How's your writing going this month? Have you ever had to stop writing for a while, in order to get something else done? Or do you see writing as being more important?