Reading Wrap-Up – July 2016

mini book haulThis month, I finished reading The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer (which I had started last month), I read A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan cover to cover, I listened to the third audiobook in the Dresden Files series: Grave Peril, and I started reading To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han, which I’m currently about 60 pages into.

Books I bought this month were Spinning Thorns by Anna Shehan, Room by Emma Donoghue, and Why I Write by George Orwell.

Goodreads Goal Update: 27 out of 45 books read (60%) – 1 book ahead of schedule.

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The Pokémon Go Get Healthy Plan

Pokemon GoMy health’s been a bit crap, recently. Also recently, I became a bit obsessed with Pokémon Go (yes, I know, who hasn’t?).

So, I’m planning to take a completely revolutionary step and try and go walking more, encouraged by the app, and in the hopes of improving my fitness.

If you don’t already know, I’m a writer and – more recently – a carer. I’m also quite introverted. These things mean that A. I don’t have to leave the house a lot and, B. I don’t actually like leaving the house even when I do get around to it.

I’m trying to change that. I’m challenging myself to leave the house every day – even if just for a walk around the block to the local gym.

I’ll keep you posted on that but, in the meantime, here are some of Pokémon Go stats so far (because you may not have got enough statistics in my last post…):

I’m Team Valor (the red one), Level Eleven, I have eleven bronze medals, two silver medals, and I’ve seen and caught forty-three different Pokémon.

Want to know anything else? Ask in the comment section below.

Fan Fiction Milestones 2016

FanFic AnniversaryNow three years from when I started writing fan fiction, it’s time for another round-up of statistics. For comparison, you can see last years post here.

One thing that’s happened since my last update that I should mention is that I’ve joined Archive of Our Own.
So, I’m currently going through all my fanfic, re-editing and crossposting it there.

Basic Stats:

  • Over 8,500 Profile Views |
  • Received over 500 Reviews |
  • Received over 1,500 Reviews* | Elysian Fields
  • On the Favorite Author List of 99 Members |
  • On the Favorite Author List of 67 Members | Elysian Fields

I Have Written:

  • Over 270,000 words of Fanfiction for Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series
    (70,000 in the last year)
  • About 5,000 words of Fanfic for Other Fandoms
  • Over 850 Reviews, totalling 40,000 words | Elysian Fields
  • Over 150 Reviews |
  • 13 “Challenges” | Elysian Fields

I Have Currently:

  • 44 Completed Stories for the Buffy Fandom**
  • 6 Completed Stories for Other Fandoms
  • 42 Works in Progress for Buffy Fandom
  • 1 Works-in-Progress for Other Fandoms

Awards Since Last Year:

  • Runner Up: Best Beta | Sunnydale Memorial Fan Fiction Awards (Round 32)
  • Best Crossover (with a TV show) | SunnyD Fanfic Awards (Round 32)
  • Best Quickie Fic | SunnyD Fanfic Awards (Round 32)
  • 2015 Challenge Month Participant | Elysian Fields
  • 2015 Holiday Fic Challenge Participant | EF
  • 2015 Holiday Review Challenge Participant | EF

*This is calculated to the best of my ability. There were a lot to count, and there might be a small degree of human error, hence why I’ve rounded numbers down.

**For this statistic, I’ve combined series and counted them once.

On Entering a New Phase (Life Update – July ’16)

Life UpdateIt’s four years since I became an author, self-publishing my first ever book, and three years since I set up a business around my writing, going after it as a full-time profession. There have been various stages in that process, of course, and now I find that I’m on to a new phase once more.

Back in February, I blogged about how I was moving in with my fiance. What I didn’t say, however, is that he’s unable to work, and the move meant I was becoming his official carer. The change has meant that we’ve become closer in a lot of ways, which is obviously great, but I also had to reassess my entire work-life balance, leaving me back down to only part-time paid hours.

Do I regret it? No. I don’t even think it’s made me any less productive. If anything, I have a better handle on time management now, meaning I get more done in less time. Mostly, though, I get the privilege of taking care of the person who means most to me in the whole world. I get to have my cake and eat it, my dream job and the love of my life. That’s way more than I could have ever wished for, back when I was an unemployed university dropout, playing around with Kindle formatting for the first time.

To those that think it’ll never happen to them? Take heart. All things are possible. *

*Disclaimer: it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses getting here. Life can be hard, but it’s worth it if you work at it. I don’t want to be accused of coming across as false.

People Worth Promoting: Colin Dardis

People Worth Promoting 1I’ve taken this idea from Jan Carson (another one to watch), but what I’d like to do is use this little space on the internet to promote awesome people who, I think, deserve recognition (or more recognition). And who better to start with than a man very much at the heart of the Belfast Arts Scene: Colin Dardis?

In my own head, I consider Colin to be ‘Poetry NI incarnate‘ – a term he will no doubt appreciate (I hope?).

I first met Colin when I, as an inexperienced young thing, entered myself into a poetry slam he was organizing. After pestering him with banal questions about how it all worked, he still let me take the mic. which, secretly, I think was quite brave of him. I was very clueless, and nervous, and boy did it show. But Colin (pretending not to notice) was very nice to treat me like a real performer.

Many months after that, he agreed to be my guinea pig, letting me interview him in a trial run for what would become my radio show about the local arts scene. It was even Colin who introduced me to, setting me on my self-publishing journey.

Always with his fingers in many pies, Colin really inspires me to get involved with cool projects. If you haven’t already heard of him, please go check him (/his poems) out.

My Life in Books

Juvenilia CoverI got into reading quite well on in my youth, while at university, but books had an impact on me long before that. First, there was The Bible, which affected my life in a lot of unquantifiable ways simply by my parents believing in its teachings. But other than that, there were the books I had inside me (yeah, I know, how cliché does that sound?).

The thing is, I have been writing books for as long as I can remember (which, admittedly, is not that long, but that’s a whole different story. Maybe I’ll write about it one day…)

Back in Primary School, I was obsessed with animals. I mean, I still kinda am, but not to the degree with which a child can be. I have various snippets of memories in which I collected up any magazine with photos of pets in I could find, cutting them out as best I could and then gluing them to blank pieces of paper that I hoped would one day become My Big Book of Animals. Don’t ask me where it all ended up, I have no idea, but the point is that from a young age I had the desire to keep the things that mattered to me most in print.

While in High School I made a list of things I wanted to do with my life, but it ended up mostly being a list of books I wanted to write. I wrote a lot of poetry in those awkward teenage years, and I remember typing it up, printing and stapling copies that I gave to my best (/only) friend and my English teacher, at the time. (Apparently my friend still has her copy. She has so far ignored my requests to burn it.)

My own personal copies of those early poems no longer exist (thank God!), but a few from my later teens, and a stack from my university days still live on. I read over them, back when I was doing my literary audit, and I felt the urge to do something with them. They were too personal and not really at a high enough quality to submit anywhere, but leaving them to gather metaphorical dust on my computer didn’t seem right. I wanted closure on the events they were inspired by. I wanted to put them in a book, I realized.

Thus, Juvenilia (aka The Dark Time) was made. If Still Dreaming is my first book (which it is), then Juvenilia is like book zero. I may never make an official page for it on this site, or even mention it again (then again, I might), but it exists in the world and that felt necessary. The blurb says this: Poems from an unhappy youth. Pain committed to paper. A catalogue and containment of The Dark Time. I think that sums it up quite well. It represents a chunk of my life that I can’t get back (and don’t want back!), but one I had to live through.

Why did I call it Juvenilia if I wrote it mostly after I was a legal adult? Because, legality aside, I was still a juvenile. I hadn’t grown up, in large part due to still carrying all that emotional crap around with me.

Why did I release it under my birth name? Well, that should be obvious from the answer above. I hadn’t become the person I am now. That’s why I’m not launching this book and making a big deal out of it, because it doesn’t feel like I wrote it. Not quite me, but a previous incarnation of me.

I don’t know if any of this will make sense to anyone else, but the book isn’t for anyone else. I don’t care if anyone else ever reads it (except my partner). It simply is what it is.

I hurt, I poured the pain into words, I moved on, and now the words I penned once upon a time are moving on, too.

Related Article: How I mourned my sister through the books she left behind

Event News: Women Aloud Poetry Recitals

Poetry Recital 1After the successful events Women Aloud NI put together for International Women’s Day earlier this year, FSNI asked us if we wanted to put together a poetry event to help promote the National Poetry Competition. Well, we said yes, and I was made coordinator!

It soon became clear that we had so much local talent that two events were needed, so I’ve been busy putting them together. I can now proudly announce:

Recital #1 on 4th August @ James Brown & Sons, Newtownards Road, Belfast

Recital #2 on 1st September @ Houston & Williamson, Crumlin Road, Belfast

(click through for more info. or to RSVP via Facebook)

Poetry Recital Banner 2


Writing Review – June 2016

Camp NaNoWriMo Participant BagdeDuring June, I wrote 8,500 words, consisting of:

  • 7 Blog Posts
  • 1 Poem
  • 6 (short) Chapters of Fan fiction
  • 1 and a Half Parts of a Short Story

I also edited and reformatted five short stories, submitted two poems to online journals, and entered The Love Poems into a chapbook competition.

Goal for July: 30,000 words of a first draft of my new novel, as part of Camp NaNoWriMo.

To read about what work I completed for clients this month, click here.