Lots of Library Books (Reading Wrap-Up – June 2016)

Library Book HaulWhile volunteering for Write Club*, recently, I picked up and read a copy of The Pencil – an award-winning children’s picture book. 

This month, I also delved into Goose Eggs and Hoover Bags by Dawn Cairns (review here), and got back into using my local library, where I picked up Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer, and To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han. Of those, I read the first two, and have started the third.

Also, I bought a Kindle version of Black Rainbow, and a paperback copy of The Stars beside the Sun – a poetry book by Samuel McConnell. Knowing Samuel personally, I’ve read his other poetry collection – By the Roadside – already.

Goodreads Goal Update: 24 out of 45 books read (53%) – 2 books ahead of target.

*Part of the volunteering I do for Fighting Words Belfast.

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Musings (Flash Fiction)

National Flash-Fiction Day 2016Apparently it’s National Flash fiction day, so I thought I’d share a little something I wrote.

I am old, now. My days of running wild are behind me. My body is stiff and tired, but I’m happy. I’ve lived a thousand lives, which is more than anyone could ask for.

Starting out, I was daft, like any young thing. I had no standing, but I had no cares.

The energy in my bones lasted me many years, through many incarnations; from running around my mother’s feet, to running from home to home as I passed through many pairs of loving hands that could only keep me for a time. Eventually, I ran the streets. Those days weren’t easy, but they were numbered.

Then one day I caught sight of you and everything changed – again. I was welcomed in, to join you in your domain. To rule over it by your side. We fought – oh, how we fought – but we played, too. We had fun.

Then you were gone.

Too soon. I always thought I’d be first

That’s when I really understood that some things don’t last forever, and some things always will. You’re not coming back, but I’m thankful for the years you gave me. The home I have, because of you.

This place is where I’ll end my days.

I am old now, but I am happy, as I lay in my basket by the fire, looking into the eyes of our owners. They have no idea that I have so many thoughts and feelings. Memories.

They think I’m just a dumb old dog, but God bless their ignorance.

Reading More Diversely

WNDB_ButtonI’ve heard the phrase “we need diverse books” batted around for a couple of years, now. And I’ve always agreed, always shared tweets and statuses that said as much, with great enthusiasm. But, well, that was kind of it. I thought it was the place of publishers to see what people wanted and to respond, but now I know that there needs to be more. I, personally, feel compelled to do something – to take action instead of saying words. But where do I begin? I asked myself. And the answer is that you can only really start from where you’re already at. For me, that place was YouTube.

I watch a lot of ‘BookTubers’ – that is, people who make videos specifically about books for YouTube – and so I began by looking through recommendation videos, trying to find out who the people I follow, follow. That introduced me to a few new faces, but it still didn’t feel enough. I did a search for diverse booktubers, and came up with some more. Subscribed to those, and watched their videos; had a look at what they were reading and recommending, and now I have more diverse list of voices that I’m listening to, as well as a list of books by black, LGBTQ+, and disabled authors to check out.

Continue reading


Things I Wish I'd Known About Self PublishingIt’s just over four years since I published the first ever edition of Still Dreaming, and I’ve learnt a lot since then.

At the time, I boasted about how I could do everything myself – editing, proofreading, cover design, etc. – and, as such, that I was saving so much money.

Older me knows better.

Twenty-seven-year-old me knows, for example, that you can read over the same document three hundred times and still miss a typo that a different person, with a fresh pair of eyes, can pick up in moments.

Proofreaders and editors are worth their weight in gold, and if you want your book to be the best, it’s a good idea to invest in hiring one (or both).

Editing and proofreading are skills that I now offer other people (having now learnt the skills, myself), but I no longer rely solely on myself to do it for my own books (as per the reason mentioned above).

I’ve also learnt a fair bit about formatting and cover design since two-thousand-twelve.

Still Dreaming (and all the rest of my books) have been updated a few times since then, and I’m a little bit embarrassed about the earlier versions, truth be told, but I’d probably do it all again, if given the chance.

I mean, sure, if I was doing it again I’d do it differently, but the only reason I know what changes to make is because I went out there and tried. I made mistakes, I learnt from it, and now I’m better at what I do. I’m even able to help other people, which is great.

As for the money thing: I couldn’t have afforded to hire an editor back in 2012 even if I wanted to, but I have paid the literal price since, ordering new proof copies each time I updated anything (which was often).

If I’d been more patient and less arrogant, I’d probably have waited until I could have afforded to work with professionals, but then, as I say, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I’m very happy with where I now find myself.

I guess the main thing to take away from this is to be wary of advice from newbies – especially if that newbie is yourself.

For Lives Lost

Reading about Orlando, I feel the need so say or do something. What, I don’t know. These things always leave me so helpless. But it’s not about me, I know that. There are people out there who can do something and, to them, I must urge: we need gun control now.

We need peace now.

Understanding, right now.

This isn’t usually a political blog, but I can’t just sit here and not talk about this. Not when people are dying.

End violence. End hate.

For too many people, it’s already too late.

What If…

alien writing promptWhat if our own brains weren’t, in fact, our brains? What if, several millennia ago, when the earth was still evolving, and we humans were not quite us humans, yet – what if aliens had visited us then, and planted themselves firmly inside our forming skulls? What if that was the reason we, apart from all other earth life, are sentient? What if that was why we were always so uncertain, so lost; always reaching for that elusive something that would give our lives meaning?

…if I had any talent as a sci-fi author, I would write a novel aiming to answer the questions above. But I’m not, and I’m not going to try. Thus, this is just another idea for the scrap folder, or inspiration for anyone who wants it. (Does anyone want it? Am I shouting out into the void? The alien’s at me again. Must go.)

Writing Review – May 2016

Writing UpdateAs I said in a recent post, I have started work on a new novel. My plan is to put together a first draft of it during the next round of Camp NaNoWriMo, next month.

In the meantime, though, my writing goal for June is 10,000 words, same as last month.

I didn’t meet my May goal, but I did write a total of 7,000 – made up of:

  • 7 Blog Posts
  • 3 Poems
  • 1 piece of Fan Fiction
  • And drafted chapter outlines of the new novel idea, mentioned above

I also edited one other piece and reformatted a lot of my back catalog.

Works Submitted: 3 poems to one journal, and a piece of flash fiction to another.

If you want to read about what work I did for clients during the month of May, click here.