My 2017 Reading Challenge

At the start of 2017 I came across a post on Facebook about a reading challenge. I had seen things like this before and never felt the urge to join in. I’m still not sure why I did this time, actually. But I am so glad I did and I am even considering doing a similar challenge in 2018. So, I thought I would share the books I read for the challenge with you, as well as mini-review of each. The best thing about doing this challenge was reading books I would not otherwise have read. It really dragged me out of my comfort zone!

  1. A Book You Read In School – Lord of The Flies by William Golding. This was great to revisit. I had actually been meaning to re-read it again at some point, as the post-apocalyptic YA series I have planned has some similar themes. If you’ve not read it, this chilling adventure story of what happens when a group of kids become abandoned without adults on a deserted island, is well worth a read.
  2. A Book From Your Childhood – King of The Vagabonds by Colin Dann. To be honest, I would have chosen Watership Down by Richard Adams, as this is my absolute favourite childhood book, but I had already re-read it the year before. I couldn’t quite recall the title and author of this book about a pet cat who wants to live with the ferals in his neighbourhood, but a  bit of Googling soon helped me out. I ordered the paperback and thoroughly enjoyed a little trip down memory lane. I was probably about ten when my oldest sister bought me this book for Christmas. I wrote similar stories myself after reading it and drew pictures too.
  3. A Book Published Over 100 Years Ago – The Terrifying Tales by Edgar Allen Poe. I had high hopes for this, but I really didn’t like it! I enjoyed the first one, The Tell-Tale Heart, and I thought The Pit and The Pendulum was also excellent, but the rest? I kept skim reading them. They totally lost me. I was bored.
  4. A Book Published In The Last Year – The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engels. At the start of 2017 my friend author Kate Rigby asked me to join a Facebook group called Book Connectors. It’s an awesome group made up of authors, bloggers, readers and reviewers. Because of this group, I am constantly adding more books to my to-read pile! This was the first one that caught my eye due to so many people reviewing it in the group. A dark tale about the twisted lives of the enigmatic and tragic Roanoke girls. I couldn’t put it down.
  5. A Non-Fiction Book – How To Keep Ducks. I’ve had ducks and chickens for years and have three chicken books and not one duck book. So I decided to tick this one off by buying a duck care book! It was very interesting!
  6. A Book Written By A Male Author – History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera. I would like to read more by this author, but this book didn’t exactly thrill me. Brilliant plot, excellent characters and dialogue. It was just all a bit too tragic and depressing.
  7. A Book Written By A Female Author – Thalidomide Kid by Kate Rigby. I was a fan of Kate’s before we became friends, and I am slowly working my way through her many books. This tale of a working-class disabled boy who falls in love with an able-bodied middle-class girl is just classic Kate Rigby. I just want to cosy up with her books and immerse myself into the little world’s she creates so lovingly. I always fall in love with her characters.
  8. A Book By Someone Who Isn’t A Writer – Coreography by Corey Feldman. This was a bit of a challenge, as if you think about it, anyone who has written a book is a writer! But I interpreted it to mean someone who is better known for something else, and I had wanted to read this book for ages, so it was a good opportunity to tick another off the challenge. I was a massive fan of Corey Haim back in the day, fancied the absolute pants off him, if truth be told. Me and my sister obsessed over Corey films. The Lost Boys, Dream a Little Dream, Licence To Drive and so on. This book is eye-opening in the most tragic of ways. I thoroughly enjoyed the glimpse behind the scenes of classic films like The Goonies and The Lost Boys, but everything else Corey Feldman had to reveal was rather disturbing and I truly hope the two Corey’s get justice one day for what was done to them.
  9. A Book That Became A Film – Miss Peregine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Random Riggs. I think this was the first book I read in 2017! I bought it for one of my kids for Christmas and ended up reading it before she did. Brilliant book, and although they alter things a bit, it’s also a brilliant movie!
  10. A Book Published In The 20th Century – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood. One I had been meaning to read forever! And yes, I stupidly watched the TV show first. I was disturbed by it, yet could not stop watching. The same thing happened when I read the book. I think her writing style is superb and I desperately want to read more by her!
  11. A Book Set In Your Home-Town/Region – Tree Magic by Harriet Springbett. Half set in Dorset, half in France, I absolutely loved this YA magic realism novel. It’s a fantastic story about a girl who can bend trees. Really special.
  12. A Book With Someone’s Name In The Title – Searching For Ethan by Robert Cowan. I discovered Robert Cowan when I reviewed one of his books for Underground Book Reviews. I’d been meaning to read another one for some time, as I really liked his style and content. This book was great. Gritty coming-of-age!
  13. A Book With A Number In The Title – The Six Train To Wisconsin – Kourtney Heintz. One I picked to review for Underground Book Reviews. A really interesting and unique story about a woman who can read the thoughts and feelings of others.
  14. A Book With A Character With Your First Name – A Little Bit Of Chantelle Rose by Cristine Hodgson. I was really struggling with this one, until a fellow Book Connector author posted about her book in the group. This is not the type of book I would normally read, but I actually really enjoyed it.
  15. A Book Someone Else Recommended To You – We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. My daughter read this book because the librarian at her school recommended it to her. She then recommended it to me. It was utterly brilliant. An extremely moving and complex story about family secrets.
  16. A Book With Over 500 Pages – The Bachman Books by Stephen King. I may have cheated a bit with this one. I had already read all the books in this collection, except for The Road. So, I just read The Road. (Compelling YA dystopian plot about a Hunger Games-esque contest that sees teenage boys walking until they drop)
  17. A Book You Can Finish In A Day – The End by Justine Avery.  Another one picked for Underground Book Reviews, this novelette was extremely short and also unputdownable. A fast-paced story about a man who witnesses his own death on his Go-Pro camera before it has happened.
  18. A Previously Banned Book – In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I had a great reaction on my Facebook author page when I asked for recommendations for a banned book to read. In the end, I chose this one and I’m really glad I did. The story of a murdered family and the subsequent manhunt and trial of their killers, is written in such an extraordinary way, I can’t help but think it would struggle to get published these days. You know who did it from the start. The plot is all about the killers, their lives, and attitudes, and the authorities attempt to catch them. Fascinating read.
  19. A Book With A One Word Title – Bloq by Alan Jones. Another book I had picked to review for UBR. This gritty tale of a missing girl and her father’s desperate attempts to find her was shocking, brutal and also very moving.
  20. A Book Translated From Another Language – Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais. I came across this in the Book Connectors group. One of the lovely bloggers had reviewed it and it sounded like something I would enjoy. Three girls are voted as the ugliest in their school in a Facebook contest. How they react to this makes one hilarious and inspiring story.
  21. A Book That Will Improve A Specific Area Of Your Life – Rise Of The Machines: Human Authors In A Digital World by Kristen Lamb. A great book for indie writers just starting out. I wish I had read this before I started!
  22. A Memoir Or Journal – How Not To Be An American High-School Girl In The 70’s by Gail Spencer Choate. Another book I picked to review for UBR. I really enjoyed this; a cringe inducing recollection of awkward teenage moments. Great fun.
  23. A Book Written By Someone Younger Than You – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I saw this in Book Connectors, bought it, devoured it and promptly passed it to my daughter who did the same. One of those books you think about for a long time afterwards. I urge everyone to read it. A powerful portrayal of racism and class in modern America.
  24. A Book Set Somewhere You’ll Be Visiting This Year – The Butcher Of Glastonbury by David Bowker. We went to Somerset in April, and there are a fair few books set in that region, but this one seemed so bizarre I just had to pick it. It’s the story of a girl who returns home one day to find her entire family brutally butchered. She then helps the local detective try to solve the case and catch the killer, but she knows it was not a human who dismembered her family. This book gets more surreal with every page, but I really enjoyed it! A strange and satisfying little find.
  25. An Award Winning Book – Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz. I absolutely loved this book. The tender story of two lonely boys who become best friends and have to face their true identities and desires. My daughter just read it and she loved it as much as me. Short, snappy chapters, more dialogue than narrative. First person narrative. It’s beautiful.
  26. A Self-Published Book – Uncivil Wars by Wendi Kelly and Deborah Dorchak. Another UBR pick, I have been reading this series for a while now. Not a genre I would ordinarily pick, (shape-shifters, werewolves, vampires and more) I’ve been pleasantly surprised and impressed with the character development and complex plots. Brilliant sutff.

So, that’s my list! My 2017 Reading Challenge. It’s been tremendous fun seeking out bookt so fit the criteria and meet the challenge. I’ve discovered some amazing new authors and read some books that will stay with me forever. I am pretty sure if I can find a good challenge for 2018, then I’ll do it. How about you? Have you read any of these books? Any take your fancy? Have you ever tried a reading challenge and if so, how did you get on? Please feel free to share and comment!

Advertisements

First Draft Frenzy!

I am currently in the throes of writing the first draft of a novel. I shouldn’t really be doing this. I have a book ready and waiting to be published, and another one awaiting its 5th draft. But sometimes, ideas get too loud. Sometimes characters get too noisy inside my head. And sometimes it feels like you have been editing and revising and rewriting for so long, you just desperately need a break from it. I needed to write something fresh and it has done me the world of good. (It is actually a sequel to the book awaiting 5th draft, so not entirely fresh, but you get the idea.)

Anyway, writing the first draft is a lot of fun but also totally insane. I know it is very different for everyone. There are ‘pantsers’ and ‘plotters’ and many who fall somewhere in between. I have never been much of a plotter. What tends to happen is I get the characters first, their personality, flaws, dreams, background, and dilemmas. I get to know them pretty well inside my head,  where they basically treat me like a therapist and start telling me all of their problems. Things inevitably evolve and progress and before long I have a plot of sorts, a loose start middle, and end and I start jotting notes down so I don’t forget anything. As I’ve said before, by the time I start a book I know the characters so well, but it’s the storyline and sequence of events I’ve got to get to grips with.

I kind of envy plotters. They outline and plan every detail, do all their research before writing and probably come out with a far more polished and advanced first draft than I do. I do try to plot, it’s just that it also sort of works itself out as I go along. Generally, I will have the basics, the bones, but as I write, things change and grow and then I will know what is happening about 3 chapters ahead.

My first draft, I am happy to admit, is a scruffy, ugly, clumsy, diabolical piece of writing. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit harsh on myself, but it does tend to be cluttered with question marks (because I am too lazy in the moment of writing to go off and research something, I will just leave a question mark, in other words, get back to it later) I do the same thing when I can’t think of the best or right word or phrase…ahh hell just move along and do it later. The hard work begins in draft 2 and 3 and so on. So perhaps I should take note of the plotters style and try to calm things down a bit. It would help me in the long run, there’s no doubt.

So, why do I do it like this? This crazy, messy, hectic outpouring of events and ideas? It’s because I’m in a hurry. I want to get it done.I will worry about perfection and fine honing later when I am calmer. When I am writing it for the first time I am literally high on the energy and the creativity of it and I want to get it out, get it written, not stop for anything, I want to write without hesitation or worry, knowing that no one is ever going to see this, so it doesn’t matter how shoddy it is, I am just telling the story.

The other reason is, the first draft, telling the story for the first time and finally getting it out of my head where it has been for months even years, is all consuming for me. Like an addiction, I am totally distracted by it and endlessly guilty of thinking about it non stop and not wanting to do anything else until it is done – so sorry family! I don’t want to blog, or promote, or write articles or anything, I turn the laptop on and just want to write and how dare anything else get in the way until it is done!

I am nearing the end now of this current work-in-progress. I had one of those wonderful moments today while out running when all the loose ends tied up and I suddenly worked out exactly how to get to the end. An amazingly dramatic climax also reared its magnificent head, providing a way into book three. (Yes, this has now turned into a trilogy…) This was the moment I had been waiting for. I had total faith that it would come. I believe the whole story is all there in my head the entire time. I just need to pluck it out from all the other stuff going on up there!

Once I have finished this frenzied madness I am currently existing in, I will feel better. Calmer.I will be quite happy to push it to one side and get back to the orderly and professional business of editing and perfecting my two (almost) finished novels. I will be less distracted. I will be able to concentrate on normal life again. I will probably finish up early more often and watch some TV with the kids.

But for all its insanity, I really needed this ugly first draft fiasco. For me, that passion, the addiction, the mind bursting with creativity, characters coming to life in ways you never expected, revelations, inspiration, eureka moments, the weaving together of lives ands tories, the utter, mad excitement and adrenalin of it all, is what writing is all about!

Please feel free to comment and share! Do you plot or just get going and see what happens? Is your first draft a frenzied affair like mine, or something far more organised and sedate?

My Dog and I Are Far Too Alike…

They say that owners end up looking like their dogs. Or maybe it’s that people subconsciously choose dogs that look a bit like them. I can’t say I look like my dog Skipper, sadly. He is tall, slim and blonde. I’m…not. However, we are very alike in a lot of strange ways. Today’s blog is all about me and my dog, and why we are so totally and utterly suited to go through this life together…

1656036_763861943633073_8363940785469185821_n

 

We are both anti-social. Well, to be fair, we are probably better described as asocial, rather than anti. I’ve always been one of those people that get on just fine on my own. I don’t need other people and I’ve never felt lonely in my life. I often don’t really understand other people and sometimes feel life is simpler when I just avoid them. Skipper is like this with other dogs. Some bad experiences taught him that unknown dogs are best left alone. Therefore, he does not go out of his way to interact with strange dogs. He sticks by my side and gives me his wide-eyed anxious look. Don’t leave me, Mum. He literally doesn’t know what to do when he meets other dogs. Wagging his tail? Well, sometimes. Play? No, don’t be silly. He never stoops to that. He just wants to be left alone and well old boy, I can totally relate to that.

We both love to run. I started running when I was 17. I was fed up of being chubby and depressed and decided I was the only one who could do anything about it. I started running around the back fields of our estate. I’ve continued running whenever I can throughout my life. Granted, there have been long periods of time when I have just not been able to fit it in, but I do try to get back to it. With my youngest child now at part time at pre-school, I am currently getting back into it in a big way. Of course, Skipper is half Greyhound and half Saluki, so running is in his genes. He was born to run and in his younger days, he used to make the earth shake when he took off. Oh, what a sight. Absolutely beautiful. So much power and grace and passion. Sadly, he’s coming up to 8, and a quick, mad dash here and there is all he feels up to these days. When I run, he keeps up a pleasant trot as if to humour me. But every now and then, if his amazing eyesight catches sight of a squirrel on the ground, he still surprises me with how fast he can take off, like a bullet from a gun, tearing up the dust, thundering out of sight. Beautiful. Never fails to make me smile.

21994465_1651838618168730_158630375873332947_o

 

We know who we love. Skipper has always been a bit fussy about who he likes. He’s never been mean or aggressive, it’s just there are some people he’s not that fussed about, and there are some people he really, really, really likes. He likes them so much he announces their arrival with a high pitched, screaming whine. He greets them by turning in circles and knocking into them with his backside. He then makes sure they remember he is around by placing his head on their lap for fuss, and nudging their hand every time they dare to stop stroking. He can be very demanding, like that. I know who I like too. I have some very favourite people in my life. People I get very, genuinely and childishly excited about seeing. Funnily enough, I think they are the same ones Skipper loves…

18922917_1537229719629621_5132818550483995292_o

We are very loyal. I like to think I am a loyal person. I don’t need a lot of people, and I’m kind of fussy about who I let in, but if I do make a friend, it tends to be a friend for life. I’m not too interested in superficial, small talk friends. I’d rather have a small handful of people I can truly rely on for deep and meaningfuls, and once I’ve found them, I’ll cling onto them, recognising how valuable and rare it is to find ‘your people’. There’s no doubt that Skipper is loyal. And most of that loyalty is given to me. If anyone else tries to walk him, he will pull them over to me. When he was a puppy, he once ran back home to me because my husband took him for a walk. Unless he’s having a mad dash, whenever I look down on our walks, there he is. His eyes are always on me. Like melted hazlenut chocolate. He has the gentlest eyes ever. We’re well and truly stuck with each other. There’s no one else would be able to understand him like I do, and vice versa.

22496134_1669914713027787_4798253652834429377_o

We have a naughty side…Well, who doesn’t? No one’s perfect, right? Skipper can be very, very naughty. He is a terrible thief. (It’s a lurcher thing.) He has grabbed legs of lamb and run up the garden with them, eaten an entire 2kg tub of margarine, entire fruit crumbles, cakes, a batch of freshly baked scones, entire contents of my fridge once when it got somehow left open…the list goes on. There is nothing he won’t steal. Though we do joke, if there is something Skipper won’t steal, then it must be truly vile. He has a sensitive tummy though, so quite often the results of his thievery end up in steaming puddles all over the house, which is usually how we know he has stolen something. He will also raid the bin. We don’t have a bin anymore but do put rubbish in a plastic bag on the side. Never ever make the mistake of putting even a crust or a crumb into that bag! He will wait until you are not around (he never steals when we are watching!) and he will happily tear the whole bag to shreds and scatter the rubbish all over the floor. Skipper also cocks his legs on things from time to time. He is house trained. He can even open the front door by himself from both sides, so is able to let himself in and out for toilet time. It’s just that every now and then, for no explicable reason, he likes to piss over something in the house. He has over the years, been a truly naughty boy. But I’m no angel and sometimes I think we deserve each other. I’m one of those people who is slow to anger, but once I blow I really blow. Everything will come out all at once in a pretty childish temper tantrum. I always end up regretting it afterward, and it would be much better if I mentioned things as and when they annoyed me, but there you go, none of us are perfect, but sometimes I think we expect dogs to be.

22426646_1664164230269502_2346514901464568034_o

We are creatures of habit…Skipper has the most amazing internal clock. My other lurcher Tink will come running if she hears the food bowls clattering, or her lead being grabbed. She might show up if someone is home from school or work. But Skipper knows exactly when things should be happening, and he never lets me forget. He has his cues. The front door opening in the morning means breakfast. Between 9am and 10am is first walk. Don’t even think of going past 10am. He will follow me around the house with big, sad eyes. He will sit down right in front of me if I have dared to put on the TV or pick up a book. Every time I turn around he will be there. Staring. The same thing happens around 12pm. Lunchtime, obviously. Then anytime between 2pm and 3pm, he is on high alert. Second walk. He won’t settle. Every time I say ‘right’ he thinks it’s the off. Runs like a lunatic into the front door. Again, he will follow me around, tripping me up. Once home, it’s window watching time. He sits on the bottom stairs and has a good view of the front gate. He’s waiting for the kids to come home one by one. Yes, he loves them and wants to greet them, but what he’s really after is the leftovers from their lunchboxes. He won’t go away now until after his dinner, followed by ours. He will be there like a massive lump, long, gangly legs in the way, hopeful eyes, getting trod on and bumped into because he just won’t go away until every little crumb is extinguished. Bless him. Then it’s back to bed. As for me, I have to admit I am not the most spontaneous of people. I like to have my week planned to a degree. I write to-do lists and can’t survive without them. My life is arranged by time slots and I really have no say in it. School run, school pick up, dog walks, dinner. You know how it is! There is a degree of comfort in the familiar. If someone was to turn up at my house unannounced, I honestly don’t know how I would cope!

So, there you have it. I might not exactly look like my dog (I look a lot more like the other one. The scruffy one!) but I do think we have become very, very similar. For this reason, I just get him, and he just gets me. That’s the beauty of owning a dog. Total acceptance.

What about you? Are you a dog person or a cat person, or are you owned by both? Do you think you and your pet are alike in personality? Or maybe looks? Please feel free to comment and share!

16819284_1421159227903338_3821758663174394252_o

 

When Blogging Becomes A Struggle…

Confession time. I’ve been having trouble blogging for a while now. There are many reasons why, which I will go on to explain, not really in the hope of offering advice to anyone who may be experiencing the same struggles, but more to help myself make sense of them. As always in my life, I work things out better when I write them down! So…

In The Beginning…

When I first started this blog, I did so with great trepidation. I used it to post extracts from my works in progress, which at the time were my novels The Boy With The Thorn In His Side and The Mess Of Me.At that time, they were both unpublished and I had no social media pages or profiles set up. It was all very much the beginning!

I recall how nerve-wracking it was when I first published a post on this blog. I shared it on my personal Facebook page and couldn’t decide what would be worse; having no one read it at all, or having people read it and not like it! It was the start of me sharing my work and it had taken decades for me to gather the courage to do it.

Luckily, it went well. It was a positive experience, as a number of Facebook friends started to read the extracts and enjoyed them so much, they asked for more. And for a long time, that’s all this blog was used for. Extracts of work in progress, read by a very small amount of people who already knew me. Ahh, easy. Not much to worry about back in those days!

And then came the books…

But things progressed. Eventually, I self-published both of those books and decided to set up my Facebook author page, Twitter and Goodreads accounts. I was reluctantly embracing the realities of the indie life and the cross to bear that is self-promotion. By this point, the tone of the blog had changed a little too. Now that some of the books were available, I no longer shared extracts from my work. Instead, I started writing about everyday life. Thoughts and feelings and memories. Anything that sprang to mind. The reason for this was quite glorious. I had been bitten again by the writing bug, and the result of that was that the more I wrote, the more I wanted to write, and the more I had to say until I began to feel like I was bursting with it. This felt like a very good thing.

I didn’t have many followers, but those who did read those first honest essay style posts, left lovely, encouraging comments. I had no urge to blog regularly. I had not even designed the blog site or customised it in any way. It was all still rather basic, but I was actually having fun. Every now and then, I would feel the urge to share something, and I would spew it out onto the blog, refine it, redraft it a few times and then hit publish. Again, fun times. Now that I had the hang of ‘blogging’ I was really enjoying it.

blog all the things!

I began to feel like a real writer…

As time went on, I published more books, as well as articles for Author’s Publish and a local parenting magazine. I began to feel like a real writer and described myself as one. Tentatively, I began also blogging about writing. Writing tips, writing problems, that kind of thing. Nothing too heavy-handed, after all, I was hardly in a position to advise anyone, but I did feel I had enough knowledge under my belt to share a few things and I enjoyed doing it. My blog was growing and evolving. It was becoming more confident and so was I.

realwriter.jpg

Around this time, a friend of mine also gave me some much-needed advice on how to make the blog more user-friendly. I customised it a bit, added the various share buttons and started using images and tags, and generally, became a tad more savvy about it all. I was still having fun. No pressure. I blogged when I wanted to. Sometimes once a month, sometimes more often if there was a lot to talk about.

I rebranded…

And then over a year ago, I rebranded the blog, again taking valuable advice from another friend. I thought about what one thing my books all had in common and realised that it was that all of my characters were outsiders. Proud ones. I renamed my blog The Glorious Outsiders, I thought more about who my audience was, what kind of people would like my books, and focused on drawing them in and talking to them. I decided to blog weekly from then on, having read lots of articles about how important it was to blog at least once a week.

It was easier than I thought to begin with. I found that the more I blogged, the more ideas for posts I got. I had undoubtedly put pressure on myself though. I decided to release posts on Wednesdays, which meant I really needed to have another idea decided on by Thursday, and a rough draft of it completed by Monday. I was now aiming to be a lot more smooth and professional about things, which meant I started putting much more effort into my posts, crafting them with more care, that sort of thing. Basically, they took longer to write and perfect. Or was I just getting picky?

Which brings us to now…

This routine has worked very well up until very recently, but now I have to admit I am struggling. I am struggling for a number of reasons. First, is time. Being an indie author means you do everything yourself. I go through phases of quite enjoying promotion, and phases of actually hating it and backing off from it entirely. I have so much I want to write, and like a lot of indies, I cling to that thin hope that the next thing I write will be snapped up by a big publisher, or will hit the big time, make me famous, bring me success and end my money worries. We all dream! But it’s not just a dream, it’s something you actively work at, day in, day out. Because I’m trying so hard to write better books, I’m getting fussier, and it’s taking longer each time to get them finished.This means, the many, many other books planned and plotted and waiting to be written, have to wait even longer. I just sometimes feel I do not have time to devote to weekly blogs if I am ever going to get these books written! And then other times, I know I have to blog and promote and be seen, in order to try and sell my others.

Decisions, decisions! Do I spend time on this or that? Crafting a blog takes time! It’s not just the wording and the structure and the focus, it’s the images and the tags! I am rubbish at finding images and making memes. Sometimes I will ditch a blog post just because I can’t be arsed to find images for it!

nogoodmemes

And because I am getting fussier about my books I am also getting fussier about my blog posts. I go over them again and again. Have I lost confidence? I don’t know. I can’t say what it is. But I must have about fifteen unpublished blog posts now. I keep writing them and not publishing them. They just don’t feel ready. They just don’t seem to have a focus. Am I running out of things to blog about? No. definitely not. I have a list and the list grows weekly, so maybe that is the problem? Another case of too much to write and not enough time to write it?

Maybe I am having a crisis of confidence? I’m pretty sure we all do from time to time. Being a writer is a delicate business and we all have fragile egos. I’m lucky that I have never had unpleasant feedback or criticism, not on my books or on my blog, but that could just be a reflection of the small number of people reading them. Still, I think blogging was easier when I didn’t think anyone at all was reading it!

Over the last few months, my weekly blog posts have diminished to fortnightly ones. I’m not going to be hard on myself for this. I would rather post nothing, than post something I am not happy with. My personal life is a bit fraught, and I can honestly say I have never known what emotional exhaustion is, until now. There is just only so much a brain can deal with, I guess.

So, you might ask, why bother blogging at all? Why not have a big break from it? Why put the pressure on myself at all? I don’t know. I suppose pressure is part and parcel of the indie life. I want to sell books because I wrote them to reach people. I know how much effort is needed to be seen, and I don’t want to go backwards or be forgotten. And also, I enjoy blogging. I love this little blog of mine and the journey it has been on. I’m quite proud of it really, and a bit like writing a diary when I was a kid, it gives me an outlet. A chance to express my views on just about anything. I’m not the best talker, but writing a blog post gives me the opportunity to argue back, to make a case, to ask questions, to reminisce or just be silly.

So, in conclusion…

I’m still here. And I have every intention of always being here. Thank you if you’ve been following me from the beginning and are still with me today. And thank you to anyone who is a new follower of this blog. I suppose my advice to anyone about blogging would be this. Yes, it is important and yes, it should be fun. Lots of fun. But if life gets in the way, and other issues suck up all your time and emotions, then don’t be hard on yourself. Your blog will still be there waiting when things calm down again.