I don’t know if I’m setting myself up to fail or not, but I’m trying the Open Novella Contest on Wattpad at the moment. It’s inspired by NaNoWriMo, but has a much more relaxed schedule – which suits me a lot better. Most days I get a whole two hours to myself, and those go towards any writing/blogging/reading social media/reading… showers… So, needless to say, my writing time is limited.
The Open Novella Contest is only 20 000 words in 12 weeks. Much more doable for a toddler-mum.
What’s slightly different to NaNo is that you get a list of prompts to choose from. But they’re relatively open, and you’re allowed to change it somewhat to suit your needs. I went with this prompt:
To escape her abusive parents, a princess dresses up as a male vigilante to protect her kingdom but soon catches feelings for her own ‘damsel in distress’, who knows nothing of her royal blood and true identity.
I’ve decided to write another story in my Spellbound (fantasy) universe. Romance, of course. I’m incapable of writing anything different. I’ve changed a few details, for example, the abuse of the parents is more towards the kingdom than the princess. Guess what though? For once, I actually don’t hate the blurb I wrote! Normally, I really struggle with blurbs.
The contest is set up in three word-goal stages. The first is only 2 000 words, and I’ve hit that. After that, it’s 8 000 and then 20 000 at the end. Wish me luck in hitting them all!
Since I’m actually writing somewhat regularly again, let’s start the WIP Wednesday routine again! Every Wednesday I will share a piece of something I’m currently writing on. The length will probably vary greatly since I don’t want to give too much away.
Today, I’m sharing a piece from Bowstrings & Velvet, my fantasy romance novella currently being published on Wattpad (and my author blog). Since the last time I shared a piece of this, the male lead has had a name change (in case anyone remembers).
It was nightfall by the time they stopped to make camp by a small stream. They’d travelled in the water, allowing the current to wash away their tracks, and Felix finally seemed content to believe that anyone following them would be far behind. Shae was exhausted, she’d not been on a horse for a long time, not since before their marriage, and her arms and legs were aching. When Felix came to help her down, she literally fell into his arms. He steadied her by wrapping his arms around her.
For a moment she allowed herself to close her eyes and feel safe in his embrace. He was warm and firm, smelling faintly of the sandalwood soap she knew he favoured, but now it was mixed with the smell of horses and blood. Steeling herself, she pulled away from him and turned to unsaddle her horse. Felix’s hand on hers stilled her movements.
“Let me do that,” he said softly. “You can barely stand upright.”
With a new year, I thought I’d get back into the habit of writing a monthly update with what I’ve been doing lately. For myself, if nothing else.
I signed up to Wattpad in 2017 but did absolutely nothing with it. Since I’ve decided that this year is the year I stop procrastinating (as much), I’ve started publishing some of my shorter things there. Some are ongoing, some are now done. I had a lot of old fantasy romance stories I wrote when young, and I had the idea to combine them all into the same universe (which is a merger of the old ones) and loosely link them all. So far I’ve updated an old one called A White Rose, and I’m writing a new one called Bowstrings & Velvet which I update every week.
Total work/words for January
Bowstrings & Velvet: Prologue + 4 chapter (7756 words) ongoing A White Rose: 4 chapters (10 159 words) complete Day of Farewell: Flash fiction (933 words) complete
The weather has been absolutely rubbish in January. We’ve managed two visits to a playground, and one visit to the farm that we go to a lot, other than that it’s all been indoor activities. A lot of soft play areas! Swimming once. A couple of times to mini gym/mini movers. Then we’ve hung out with our friends and tried to keep ourselves entertained at home. I really hope the weather will improve soon!
She’s starting to talk more, even if more than half of it still sounds like gibberish. I suspect that she knows what she’s saying, only we can’t make it out. I think she’s a tiny bit behind on speech, but it’s supposedly common in bilingual children. That said, she speaks a lot more English than Swedish, but I guess that was unavoidable considering that we live in England. However, she fully understands either from what I can tell. (It’s not like she will do what I say if she doesn’t want to…)
I’ve finished (and really enjoyed!) The Good Place on Netflix. It was such a good show. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. I’ve also started watching the new Picard show on Amazon Prime, and while it’s not quite like the old Star Trek shows, I’m quite enjoying it. Another good show I’ve seen lately is Sex Education on Netflix. There’s a Swedish guy in it, which always cracks me up. His accent is very Swedish!
Oh, and The Witcher. I had mixed feelings about it initially, but I have to admit that the show grew on me. Henry Cavill as Geralt didn’t hurt… Since then I’ve been listening to metal versions of “Toss a Coin to your Witcher” on YouTube. Someone, send help…
Nothing else interesting has happened really. Between the imp and writing, there is little to no spare time left (and as you can tell, I spend it binge-watching Netflix!). I’m trying a new approach to keeping on top of housework, which is always difficult for me with CFS and fibromyalgia causing lack of energy and pain to steal my momentum. Still, even while I’m not managing to follow the program fully, I feel like I’m a lot more on top of the cleaning than I was in 2019. Fingers crossed that I can keep it up.
While I’m not claiming to be some writing virtuoso, I definitely find writing easier than writing blurbs. The ones for my short stories and novellas are hard enough, but I’m now trying to make a really catchy one for the novel I’m hoping to publish later in the year. I don’t know if it’s harder than normal today because we’ve just had a few nights of absolutely dreadful sleep, so my brain feels quite foggy. Maybe I should try again another day.
My blurb so far is two words. Two. Words. And they’re the names of the main character… Yes, that’s how bad my brain is working today.
I have a tagline though. I think?
What is a proper, young lady to do when she finds a stranger sleeping in her bed?
I like it, but at the same time, it’s only really pertinent to like the first chapter. Since the stranger is 1) only in her bed in the first chapter 2) only a stranger in the first chapter since obviously they get to know each other after this. Am I overthinking this? Possibly. Will I keep thinking about this? Definitely.
After all, I spent a good 10 minutes the other night agonising over the correct word to use in a sentence. That was one word. This is a whole blurb. Expect at least a few weeks of me tearing my hair out.
I have an old blurb for the book, but I don’t think I like it. If anyone has any insights, please feel free to share.
ANGELIQUE GRAFTON never imagined finding a stranger in her bed, let alone a Marquess. She knows that her family expects her to marry another, but every nerve in her body tells her that it’s a bad match. Always having been told that she’s not lovable, she feels that she should be grateful for the unofficial arrangement made by her late parents. But could she jeopardize her happiness to fulfill her parents’ wish? Especially when she’s met a man who makes her very skin tingle in awareness.
NATHANIEL HOWERTY, the Marquess of Pensington, is not looking for love. In fact, he’d be quite happy never to find it. Having seen how his father was destroyed by losing the woman he loved, Nathaniel fears that the same would happen to him. But when he meets Angel Grafton he finds that he wants her more than anything else. Does he dare to leave himself vulnerable to a woman that might not only steal his kisses but his heart as well?
Reading it again, I really don’t like it. There are parts of it I may keep, but other ones I think are over-explaining without actually catching anyone’s interest.
But, I shall stop here before I ramble too long.
If you’re curious, you can read the first chapter of the novel here (PDF). It’s a Regency Romance novel, tentatively titled A Midsummer Night’s Kiss. (No Shakespeare theme other than the name though.)
In just over six weeks the Imp will be two years old. It’s hard to imagine. There’s this weird thing when you have a child where on the one hand you feel like they’ve always been around, and on the other, you wonder where the hell the time has gone, were they not a newborn like, last week?
I realise that my writing about the Imp might not be overly interesting to all, and I fully understand that. Other people’s children are only so interesting really. Though more interesting, funnily enough, once you have one. This surprised me. I also find it difficult to know how much to share, since I do want to respect her privacy (ignoring that teenagers and young people these days seem to share absolutely everything online, so who knows what it will be like by the time the Imp gets to that age?). Sometimes I feel like I’m “proud momma” who wants to plaster photos of her cute monster everywhere, while at the same time I don’t really want to put her photo up all over the internet. It’s why, as she’s gotten older, I’m generally trying to only post photos now and then, and usually ones where you can’t necessarily see that much.
Anyway, as I’m approaching the day she turns two, I wanted to write down a few of the things she does. She’s a proper little monster. Again, I realise this is only interesting for… Well, probably me as I will come back and read this in the future, and possibly some of my family.
Why is she a little monster you no one ask?
Proof 1: The other week I found her in the cat’s litter tray together with some of her Duggee figurines. They were having a bath apparently. Cat litter all over the floor. I need an anti-bacterial shower. Like in the movies when they walk through that tunnel and get thoroughly sprayed.
Proof 2: Any time she can make it into the kitchen (there’s usually a gate locking her out) she will throw whatever she can in the dog’s water bowl. Like her toys, or kitten plush, or her feet! When I tell her off she just laughs in my face. She really respects me, people.
Proof 3: I left her in the living room for a few minutes watching nursery rhymes while I quickly washed up some dishes. I popped my head around after a couple of minutes (like I always do) to find her sitting in her high chair. It should be noted that when I left her she was on the floor…
Proof 4: She will tell the cat off whenever he’s on any furniture, loudly exclaiming “NO!” and waving him off. She will also chase him through the flat. Also the dog. The poor animals. (Yes, I do tell her off… See point 3.)
Proof 5: When she’s finished eating she can’t just… you know… Finish. She has to chuck any remaining bits on the floor. Including mug, plate and half-eaten yoghurt.
Still, I love my little monster. She can obviously be very lovely as well. And the truth is she’s probably no worse than any other toddler. They’re just little nightmares the lot of them.
The holiday period for us was quite busy, but not necessarily in a bad way. Our tiny flat was filled to the brim with visitors as my dad, his wife and two of my siblings came to celebrate Christmas with us. It was crowded, but a lot of fun!
Being a weird Swede, I’m used to celebrating on Christmas Eve, so with my family in town, we invited the boyfriend’s parents over and treated them to a Swedish style Christmas dinner. It included things like meatballs, sausages, potatoes, Christmas ham/gammon, fermented herring, egg halves, ribs and a home-made schnaps that my dad made from vodka and spices. I think it was fun, and while part of me just enjoyed getting to eat all the Swedish goodies, I also enjoyed sharing some of our traditions (and food) with my new English family. (And the Imp, but she’s a terribly picky eater at the moment and basically only ate sausages.)
Christmas Day we all invaded the boyfriend’s parents’ home for a more traditional Christmas lunch and presents. I say traditional, I don’t think theirs is entirely traditional as I saw no turkey! Amazingly we managed to fit a full 10 people (or 9,5 if you consider the size of the Imp) in their small lounge for presents. With that many people, presents took forever, but we had nothing better to do anyway. And it’s nice to see what everyone else gets. The Imp was so happy about anything she got, that she completely lost interest in unwrapping more presents, and would instead walk off with her latest discovery. This did not help with the speed for getting things unwrapped.
On Boxing Day (last day for my family before returning to Sweden), we all went out to our favourite restaurant for a meal. The Imp, true to her favour of beige food at the moment, ate nothing but chips (fries for those of you not British). I tried giving her some peas the other day. She put one in her mouth, promptly spat it out and started brushing off her tongue as if she had burnt herself. And when I tried to at least add a bit of pineapple to her favourite lunch (cheese toastie… we’re hitting all the major food groups here, people!), she just said “Yuck!” and wouldn’t eat it. I honestly don’t know what to do with this child and eating anymore.
But I digress.
Once full on chips the Imp no longer wished to participate at the table, so like the good mother (*cough*) I am, I brought up Netflix on my phone and she watched a bit of Chip & Potato. She then entertained our whole section of the restaurant by laughing her head off at a part of the show where the main character is running around/chasing the other. Apparently things running is hilarious. I swear she laughs at it every time.
After my family went back to Sweden the flat was blessedly empty. We loved having them here, but there’s something to be said of just being on your own for a bit too. New Year’s passed by without much ado. We didn’t do anything as some plans we had tentatively considered fell through, and so we spent the evening/night at home. The Imp, true to her aversion to sleeping, was awake at the stroke of midnight to toast the new year. We then all went to bed together.
So, only a week and a bit too late… But Happy New Year!
When I next get a moment I will write a post about Christmas and New Year’s, but today it all about shameless self-promotion!
I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve set myself some goals for 2020. One is to finally revise my old manuscript and self-publish it to Kindle before the end of the year. (Still need to get cracking on this one!) The other is to start putting myself out there, as scary as it is… So I’m publishing some other material on Wattpad. (If you don’t know it’s a platform for readers and writers where you can publish your work and/or read others stories. Or just read, there are a lot of people supposedly who are only readers as well. You can either do it on their website or download their app onto your phone/tablet.)
So! I’ve set myself a goal of one chapter of a novella every Monday. It’s a fantasy romance novella called Bowstrings & Velvet. I will add the blurb below in case anyone is curious about my terrible writing. It’s Romance with capital R, and fantasy with lower case f. Just pointing it out. Definitely more internal conflicts/character-driven than big, sweeping fantasy settings. Basically it’s people falling in love but in a fantasy world. Still, it’s writing and I’m rusty. I need to start somewhere.
The idea is that there will be a bunch of novellas/short stories all taking place in the same fantasy world. They all take place after the big battle that usually culminates in a “regular” fantasy novel, where they usually end. These stories happen in what’s left of the world after the big bad has been defeated, as the people are getting back to a new normal. Just because you win the war/defeat the bad guy it doesn’t mean that everything is suddenly fine and dandy (demonstrated very well by the burning of the Shire, for those who read Lord of the Rings).
But I’m rambling now. (It is late and the Imp has been waking up a lot during the night, so my brain may not be at peak performance, I’ll be honest.)
Below is the blurb for Bowstrings & Velvet. And also for A White Rose, which is a short story in the same universe, also sort of in progress, so nothing is completed.
If you want to check Wattpad out, you can do so here. Or you can read them on my author blog here.
The Imp and I went to Sweden at the start of November and stayed until December 1st, so we’re only just back in the UK, really. While in Sweden I attended my grandma’s funeral, which was incredibly sad, yet a beautiful service. I’m glad that I could get there and pay my respects, even when living in another country. There’s always a fear of missing out on important events when living far away.
During the rest of the visit, we saw family, visiting my dad for a weekend and one of my sisters for another weekend. There was snow for a few days, but a good couple of weeks were just gray and dreary with rain every day. Those days were absolutely miserable.
I’m frustrated by myself and my lack of writing – both on the blog and otherwise. I was never a very prolific blogger, but since the Imp it’s been pretty dismal. In my last post I mentioned having written a chapter for a novella, that’s about as far as I got since after that the Imp decided that sleep was not something that she needed. Suddenly her already rubbish evenings turned into a flurry of “no I will not sleep until 11 pm at the earliest”, and I would most commonly fall asleep with her or shortly after. Even the odd evening when she did fall asleep I got nothing done because I was either exhausted or expecting her to wake up any moment (which she often did).
Four (and two more nearly through) teeth later, and it looks like there might finally be some light at the end of the tunnel. She’s actually been asleep by 9 pm a couple of evenings now. I won’t hold my breath, but if I can at least get a couple of hours to myself in the evenings again, maybe I can get some writing in. Wish me luck!
Our one week in Spain turned out really nice. There was quite a bit of running after the Imp as there was an open pool in the garden, but between three adults it worked out well. We took it easy most of the time, lounging at the house and in the pool, with only trips to the grocery store and twice to the beach. I think everyone just wanted a break, and it was lovely. The Imp, unfortunately, decided during the holiday that she hated the car seat, the highchair, and the buggy – so we had quite a few battles whenever we needed to go anywhere!
I’ve already booked my next holiday, which will be a trip back home to Sweden in November. Sadly it’s due to wanting to attend the funeral for my grandmother who passed away a couple of weeks ago. She ended up in the hospital while we were in Spain, but seemed to be doing better as we came back. I was on standby to book a ticket to come home sooner if needed. Then suddenly she took a turn for the worse, and then she was gone. It’s all very sad, but I’m glad that at least I can make it for the funeral. It’s instances like these that bring it home that I’m far away from my family, and it makes me miss them even more.
In completely unrelated news, I’m trying my hand at writing fiction again. It’s been absolutely forever, other than some fan fiction a few years ago, and currently, it feels about as easy as squeezing water from a rock to get the words to flow – but I am persisting. Hopefully, the writer’s block will subside if I can keep at it. I just need the Imp to sleep a bit better, so that I have more time to actually write. To sort of get myself back into it, I’m not jumping right back to my old Regency series, instead trying to write a little novella with a Christmas theme (still Regency romance). I’m considering publishing a chapter every week or so on Wattpad and/or blog as I finish them. Then for Christmas 2020, I’ll have it revised and properly edited, and maybe release it as an e-book.
We shall have to see how it goes. I only started yesterday so I only have one chapter so far. Wish me luck!