The Crooked Path by Harriet Goodchild: Mini-Review & Author Interview

Today I’m wishing a very Happy Publication Week to Harriet Goodchild, whose gorgeously poetic The Crooked Path is out this week! I’ve previously read and greatly enjoyed two of Harriet’s short story compilations, so when I was given the opportunity to snag an ARC of The Crooked Path, of course I jumped at it.

Harriet was also kind enough to join me today for a mini-interview, during which we discuss the links between poetry/folksong and writing, given the highly poetic feel of The Crooked Path. Keep scrolling for blurb, mini-review, and interview!

The Book

crooked_path-web_res

Stories link together. What is done in one time and place spreads out across the world to shape the future: there is never a single beginning, never a simple end.

But, since this tale must have a beginning, let it be when a potter carves a creature from dreams and driftwood.

It carries him to a place where fair faces conceal foul intent, where two kings guard the firstborn tree by night and day, where only a living man’s love can undo a dead man’s hatred.

And where, if he does not go carefully, the choices made in other times and places will cost him his life.

My Mini-Review

As previously mentioned, I’ve already read some of Harriet’s work. Those were all short stories, however; and as much as I enjoyed them (and I really did, despite the fact that some of the themes were not ones I would normally choose to read), The Crooked Path is by far and away my favourite. There are hints and references to the short stories in there, too, so it’s good to read each of them.

Firstly, the feel of it was incredibly evocative. It took me right back to the wonder and excitement with which I used to read The Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor, with its amazing illustrations and magical adventures, and The Thousand and One Nights, with its alien culture and dark outcomes.

The prose itself was nothing short of gorgeous, as expected. Harriet has only grown as a writer since I read her short stories: she is one of the writers whose work constantly leaves me acutely aware of my own lack of finesse as a writer. Poetic, but spare; not a word wasted or out of place. And every spare, perfectly balanced sentence creates another layer in the dream that is The Crooked Path.

The story? Complex but simple. It’s the faery story of the girl who betrayed her faery lover, and must go through many trials and troubles to gain him back; but yet it’s more. There is an entirely loveable male MC who is satisfying to follow along on his adventures; by turns sensible and rash, and honestly ordinary in a perilously other world. Then there’s the dark female MC who is far from perfect and knows it. Oh, I loved the melody of this book; and I felt the harmony of it deep in my bones.

The conclusion: 5 out of 5 stars. I expected it to be wonderful, but it was even better than that.

The Interview

Harriet, when did you know for certain that you wanted to be a writer?

I was on holiday…

Actually, it wasn’t so much wanting as wondering whether I could write a novel rather than a paper. Scientific prose has to be concise, clear and grounded in what actually happened; it doesn’t lend itself to flights of fancy. Eventually, that holiday, I decided to stop wondering and started scribbling in my spare time. Gradually it got better and eventually it got to the point where I felt confident enough to share it.

Oh, that is not the answer I expected from someone whose writing is so poetical! There’s certainly a clarity of language to your books, but it’s entirely evocative. Speaking of poetry, how does your love of folksong and poetry play into your writing?

The folksongs give a mood, a dominant note for a character, perhaps, or an image to play with in the text. There’s also something of the pattern of folksongs in the way I structure the prose, the use of repetition and rhythm for effect, for instance, or the way one scene echoes another. Some songs have inspired stories, though the finished tale may lie anywhere along the line from a direct retelling to a mere nod in the direction of the original. Each chapter in my books and each short story has a verse from a folksong as an epigraph. Something from that song will be reflected in the following text, and all the songs together could be used as a playlist: consider it a type of cross-form intertextuality.

The poetry is more of an ideal. In poetry, there’s no space for sloppiness of thought: every word must count and every word must fit. One can say the same of prose, of course, but the elision and compression of poetry gives it an intensity and a heightened awareness of the world that prose rarely achieves. There are a few poets – Kathleen Raine and Robert Graves first among them – whose work I consider a touchstone for perfection. Raine’s work is suffused with landscape; reading it one sees the places as vividly as in a photograph and when I was living outside of Scotland I’d read them and wallow a little in homesickness. Graves is, I think, the finest lyric poet of the twentieth century. So much is captured in so little. It was, however, another poet, Michael Roberts, whose The Images of Death supplied the theme for The Crooked Path.

Do you play an instrument/s? If so, what? If not, what instrument would you most like to know how to play?

Alas, I don’t. I had years of piano lessons as a girl but made very little progress. The fine motor coordination it requires is beyond me. If I could play an instrument then it would be the fiddle. And if I could play one half as well as Aidan O’Rourke or Duncan Chisholm I would think I played it well indeed.

Yes. Fiddle is the best (I play the violin, but this conclusion should be considered in no way biased…) Music is a huge part of my writing, whether listening to it while I write or daydreaming along to it and sparking ideas. Music or no music for you when writing?

It depends. I used to listen to music as I wrote – folk music, of course, but also classical; Bach’s violin concertos and Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony were especially important when I was writing The Crooked Path. These days I tend to write in silence. If I’m editing a scene, though, I might have a particular song on repeat to help create the mood I need. Antisocial, I know. Fortunately I can put on headphones to avoid driving those around me to distraction. Right now, that song is John Doyle’s Farewell to All That. As its name suggests, it’s inspired by Robert Graves’ biography. It seems apposite.

Ah. I, too, love to isolate myself in my headphones when I can’t listen to music aloud. If we choose to call it ‘creative’ instead of ‘antisocial’, who’s to know the difference? *nodnod* A typical writing day will be kickstarted by any one of my favourite writing playlists. For you, what is a typical writing day like?

I write fiction round the edges of the rest of my life, fitting it in where and when I can. As such, there isn’t really a typical day. If I’m lucky, I’ll get an hour or two in the evenings. Sometimes I can write a lot in that time but it’s usually only a few hundred words – I write very, very slowly, rewriting and backtracking as I find my way through the story.

Making the adjustment from being an unpublished novelist to being published has been difficult and, lately, I’ve been struggling with writer’s block. The Crooked Path was more or less complete by the time After the Ruin was published but right now I’m revising the final book in that series. Writing it was very, very hard. I ended up forcing it out, like toothpaste from an all but empty tube, gritting my teeth in face of the self-doubt that comes with writer’s block. I’m past the worst by now and thanks to a few months distance, and a couple of good readers, I can see how to revise it but it’s going to take a long, long time to see the light of day. The up side of taking the time off from writing is that I could read a lot. Reading is as important as writing as it enables one to look out rather than in.

Harriet, thanks for joining me today, and happy publication week!

You can find Harriet’s books on Amazon UK/Amazon US, and Barnes & Noble. Harriet herself, you can find on Twitter and her website. And you can get your copy of The Crooked Path by clicking on any of the links above.

Happy reading, people!

“Introducing the Players”

I can’t remember if I’ve talked about Nero Wolfe before. If I haven’t, please excuse me while I hyperventilate in disbelief, because Nero Wolfe is flamin’ amazing.

“Book or T.V. Nero Wolfe?” you ask me.

“Both,” is my reply. “Both, my sprightly word-lover.”

My first introduction to Nero Wolfe was in book form, with Rex Stout’s novels. I still love them, and I still re-read them (and gasp excitedly whenever a newly-converted-to-kindle book that I haven’t been able to find at the library comes up on my Amazon storefront). I could really rave for ages about how awesome Wolfe and Archie are, and how much I enjoy the books. I’m not going to do so, because that isn’t the point of this blog post.

No, for this blog post, I’m going to talk about the T.V. version of Nero Wolfe (and a couple other things which are the actual point I’m currently illustrating by using the Nero Wolfe T.V. series).

Deep, ain’t it?

So. The Nero Wolfe T.V. show. For the purposes of this blog post, let the record show that I’m referencing the Maury Chaykin/Timothy Hutton series: I believe there are other movies and maybe another series, but since I can’t possibly see them being anywhere near as good as the Chaykin/Hutton effort, I’m ignoring them as if they don’t exist.

archie-and-nero1

The whole show is well done: the casting is perfect (Chaykin and Hutton are Wolfe and Archie; mad and bad and dangerous to know–ie, flippant, selfish, and frequently crazy), the dialogue as sparkling and hilarious as in the books, the directing some of the best I’ve seen, and the costumes both bright and entirely accurate. And like all the best shows, the Nero Wolfe series has a peculiarity that will either endear it to you, or annoy you intensely. You can possibly guess which it is in my case.

This peculiarity, in the case of the Nero Wolfe series, is the fact that the show, instead of introducing the actors, introduces “the Players”.

Maybe you can see where this is going.

If not, allow me to explain. By introducing “the Players”, the show is letting you in on the secret that you may otherwise not notice until two or three episodes later– which is the fact that each of the actors is present in nearly every episode.

That’s right. Each of the actors is almost always present, and they each play a different part in each different episode. In the case of one particular episode, one actress even plays two parts– her recurring part as Lily Rowan, and that of another lady in the story. Only Archie Goodwin, Nero Wolfe, Fritz, and Lily Rowan are always the same. Even Saul changes face once before he remains Saul, and Orrie gets the same treatment. And when Saul and Orrie aren’t in the storyline, those actors play different parts, too.

It’s something that makes you really appreciate the skills of the actors, since with their different parts, they quite often have different accents as well as completely different personalities, and none of them fall short in any of those things. After a while it becomes a game to pick which ones are the same as last episode, because it’s not always easy to tell at first.

I was reminded of this lately as I watched a couple of Taiwanese dramas.

So far I’ve seen two. They’re hilarious and weird, and really very sweet– and insanely long (oh my goodness, 35 episodes?!?!)

Why am I bringing up Taiwanese drama after Nero Wolfe? Ah, now for the second illustration of my point (which, btw, I haven’t yet brought up. Wait for it).

I originally started watching the second drama because I really liked the main male lead in the first (Office Girls) and found out he was in Miss Rose is Getting Married, which sounded as hilarious as Office Girls.

Smiling eyes, hilariously hammy acting on occasion, perfect comedic timing, and then a sucker-punch kind of sweetness that catches you by surprise, Roy Chiu has quickly become one of my favourite actors.

Smiling eyes, hilariously hammy acting on occasion, perfect comedic timing, and then a sucker-punch kind of sweetness that catches you by surprise, Roy Chiu has quickly become one of my favourite actors.

So I began watching the second drama along with the first (really livin’ it up, yeah?)

My first surprise was that my (again, favourite) 2nd male lead was also in this one, in a bigger role (hooray!) Then the mean girl from Office Girls turned up as the cute, peppy best friend (also hooray, b/c she’s just adorable). It didn’t occur to me until about three or four episodes in that the main female lead was also 2nd female lead in Office Girls.

From this discovery I went on to find that nearly every single actor in Miss Rose is Getting Married was also in Office Girls. I’m not even exaggerating. Every main lead and most of the secondaries are in both dramas, simply playing different parts. They’ve even included some of the actors in fake video clips that you see in the background, causing me to choke on my tea and nearly die of death by drowning in my hitherto safe armchair. I’m now having a great old time trying to catch ’em all–er, I mean spot them all.

Which (finally) brings me to my point. Hooray?

As a writer, there is one thing that I’m constantly worried about. If you’ve been paying attention up until this point, you’ve probably guessed what that is.

It’s this: after you’ve written about four or five books, you start to worry about your characters. Specifically, you begin to worry that your characters are all the same. You worry that you’ve simply regurgitated the same old characters into a new setting and a new plot. You wonder if their reactions, dialogue, and essential character are just too similar to each other.

In short, you begin to see them as the same old actors, painted to look superficially different. I remember the first time that I realised Ellis Peters’ characters were essentially the same characters for each book, simply put into a different setting, plot, and murder mystery.

To some extent, you can’t get away from it. There are only so many types of characters out there, and each writer is generally geared to a certain type/s of character that they enjoy/are good at writing. It’s not even necessarily a bad thing: your fans and readers like a certain kind of character, and they won’t always appreciate you growing your craft at their expense.

So, if I can’t fully escape it, why am I stressing over it?

Because sometimes, just having the problem in mind is enough to ameliorate it, even if that’s only by a small amount. If you’ve got that nagging doubt at the back of your mind, you’ll be more careful about your character drawing. You’ll tweak this or that to add small shades of other colours. You’ll consider different circumstances that might lead to different character development. In short, by thinking about your craft as you work, it’s likely that your craft will improve.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have similar characters. Our core values don’t change too much, and as writers, that will always be disseminated in our writing– and especially in our characterisation. But as a writer, I don’t want to have the same old character in every book because I wasn’t good enough or disciplined enough to write different ones. If I have similar characters, I want it to be because I intended it that way, not because I don’t know any better.

Exhaustion and the Writer

You know how it is.

You lost your job. Your job is incredibly stressful. Maybe you’ve got a chronic illness. Perhaps you’ve had extra hours at work, or could it be that you’ve simply spent all night watching K-Drama and can no longer function normally?

You’re exhausted. Whether that exhaustion is physical or mental, it’s something that makes it incredibly difficult to work on your writing. So what do you do?

Well, if you’re anything like me, you sink into a well of despair, self-loathing, and binge-tv-watching, out of which it is incredibly difficult to drag yourself. When it feels like your head is going to explode, or you’re exhausted to the point that you can’t do anything but sit in the recliner without moving, it’s an easy fix.

Easy, yes.

Helpful? Not so much.

Here’s the thing with writers.

We have to write every day. Some of us write more, and some of us write less; and honestly, it doesn’t really matter what your word count is, whether it’s 50 words a day, or 5000. We just have to write every day. And when I say ‘have to’ write every day, I really mean ‘should write’, or ‘need to write’ every day. It’s not all about habit, though habit is a good thing to get into. And it’s not all about word count, though that’s important, too.

So what is the point, Frixos?*

The point of writing every day is to keep your WiP fresh. It doesn’t matter if you only write 50 words per day, and though it’s great if you write 5000 words, it’s not necessarily more meaningful. Because even 50 words per day is going to keep your WiP fresh in your imagination. It will keep your storyline present in your mind, and it will keep your subconscious ruminating on and building on the WiP. You’ll find it easier to slip into your narrative each day, and you’ll notice that the flow of the story is much smoother. In short, it will make you a better writer: it’s a bit like practising your instrument every day.

What does this have to do with exhaustion?

Simple. When you’re exhausted, it’s hard to find the energy to write. There’s always the suffocating feeling that you should be doing more: more words per day, more writing time per day. You get caught up with the idea that you’ll never feel any better. But sometimes it’s simply a matter of writing 50 words. You don’t have to break the bank. You don’t have to write 5000 words, even if that’s your normal words per day count. It’s okay to take it easy when you’re sick or exhausted. Just don’t give up altogether: a tiny word count each day is enough to keep your WiP going, and it’s incredibly important to keep it going.

And, yanno, have a cuppa. Take it from me, a cup of tea is the best remedy for exhaustion that I know of.

I know quite a few of my writerly friends suffer from chronic illnesses/have full-on day jobs/multiple kids/etc: what tips do you have for dealing with exhaustion?

*watch Princess Caraboo if you want to know what I’m referencing. Seriously. Watch it.

SPINDLE Fan Art for Your Delectation

Hey guys! Sorry-pardon for the sad lack of blog posts this week: I’ve been ‘orribly sick and I’m only just starting to feel better. On the bright side, I’ve still been writing BATEOY and BLACKFOOT. On the less-than-bright side, I’ve been too exhausted to do any other kind of writing–or much else, actually.

I was fortunate to receive a lovely email early on in the week: someone who had read and enjoyed my books was making fan art for Spindle, and wanted to know the colour of Poly’s eyes. This naturally cheered me up quite a bit, and since I found the art that Karisa sent me thereafter to be both adorable and cute, I thought I’d share it with you. You can see more of Karisa’s work at her DeviantArt page (though she tells me she doesn’t update it terribly often 🙂 )

A headshot of Poly. So adorable! And it even has the feather and beads in her hair!

A headshot of Poly. So adorable! And it even has the feather and beads in her hair!

Poly Concept Doodle! I love how alive the hair looks :)

Poly Concept Doodle! I love how alive the hair looks 🙂

I’ll be back next week with a proper blog post and another chapter of BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU on Wattpad 🙂 See you all then!

Learning Korean (and Other Things)

I started learning Korean last month.

Being the cheap sort of person I am, I looked around at all the options and said something along the lines of “Flamin’ heck, I can’t afford that!

Fortunately for me, I stumbled upon a website that was offering Korean lessons for free. More, they were good lessons, starting with building blocks of grammar and sensible advice. Lessons taught in a way that made a lot of sense to me. Printable PDFs and workbooks to go along with ’em.

대박!

Because I had the whole month off, it was easy to slip into a good study regime of a couple hours per day. Between writing out flash cards, making copious notes, and watching a truly massive amount of Korean T.V., I began to get a reasonable grasp on the basics of Korean.

The only thing that was lacking, as far as I was concerned, was the opportunity of conversing aloud in Korean. Now, there are a lot of Korean itinerants and permanent citizens around where I live, but I couldn’t see myself walking up to any of them and saying: “안녕하세요! 너는 한국어를 말해요?” (Also, I’m not entirely sure I’ve got that right, so I wouldn’t say it anyway.)

It seemed important to begin speaking aloud (and giving someone who actually knows what the words should sound like the chance to laugh at my bad pronunciation) but no one was offering classroom or even personal lessons.

And then, through a serendipitous set of circumstances, it became possible for me to join classroom setting Korean lessons.

I hadn’t really told many people that I was studying, but I was unexpectedly visiting a friend I don’t often get to see, and mentioned it to her (along with some reccs for my favourite KDramas, of course). The next day, she sent me a text.

V__C255I read it and thought “Oh yeah, when I’ve studied enough, I’ll be confident to go to this and practise speaking aloud. I wonder when it starts?” Checked the date. Their first lesson was that night. Ah. But I was working that night and also desperately nervous.

Despite my desperate nervousness, it was a good opportunity, a free course, and it meant that if I could learn well enough, I’d be able to use my lessons in a ministry setting–aka, effectively using this for God.

So I plucked up my courage and asked my boss if I could have the afternoon off if I could get someone to take my shift. He, lovely boy that he is, said yes: which would have been well and good, if only someone would take it. Which they wouldn’t. So off I went to work, very despondent at missing my first Korean lesson–only to be called to the service desk an hour into my shift. The 2IC (another lovely boy) had seen my fervent–aka whingey–plea on the work group chat, and had arranged for someone to finish my shift so that I could get off in time to make it to the first lesson.

And just like that, I was off to my first classroom Korean lesson (during which I was too nervous and off-balance and mumbly to actually do much talking, but that’s a problem for another day…)

Here’s the thing.

I’ve been learning Korean for about a month and a half now. Want to know what I’ve learned in that time?

1. English is mad and bad and dangerous to know. Seriously, English is one crazy, mixed up, impossible language. Anyone learning English from another language is a flamin’ genius. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated how clever you have to be to go from another language to English, where the rules are always changing, there are always exceptions to those rules, and even the speakers thereof have frequent arguments about who is right or wrong when it comes to the application of those rules. In my time studying Korean, I have gained a huge respect for those whose second language is English, no matter how broken.

2. Learning to speak another language is an insanely humbling thing to do. I don’t know if it’s everyone, or if it’s particularly writers, who have such a grasp on words as a way of life, or just particularly me, having prided myself for so many years upon my vocabulary, but having to leave all that behind and start new is very hard. Instead of having the world at the tip of your tongue, instead of being sure of your expertise in that one thing, you’re flailing wildly for the smallest scrap of understanding and comprehension. More, you know that to others, you will appear exactly as you’ve often thought of newcomers to the English language: foreign, hard to understand, and slightly embarrassing to be around. People will talk to you like you’re a baby, and you will feel like a kid playing dress-up in clothes that aren’t yours and really don’t fit very well. You’ll feel like a fraud. And if you’re anything like me, you will find it painfully hard to open your mouth and force yourself to speak in a language that you feel you’re a pretender to. It’s another thing that has given me a huge respect for people who learn English as a second language. They must have felt like that all along, and I never knew.

3. Korean grammar cheats, too. Seriously, I love this language. From what I’ve read, the Hangul form of Korean was formed when one of their leaders decided that they should have their own written system distinct from Japanese/Chinese/etc. and made it up. Just, yanno, made it up. 

Screenshot (149)

Taken from my lessons (follow the link back for more)

They formed rules about how the syllables should work, too (aka, each syllable is always formed in the consonant/vowel, consonant/vowel/consonant, or consonant/vowel/consonant/consonant format). The first letter of a syllable is always a consonant. Except, yanno, when one of those pesky words doesn’t actually start with a consonant. So then you have to work out a ‘null’ symbol so that the rules can stay true. And I won’t even go into the complicated usage of particles, because I’m already going overboard with the length of this post. Suffice it to say that Hangul is the kind of written language I probably would have come up with, quirky fixes and all.

4. The versatility of the English language. I didn’t really realise it until I began learning Korean, but the English language is so versatile. You can form sentences in so many different ways, with the words in so many different places, and still get your meaning across in the way you want to get it across. It could be because I’m still such a beginner in Korean, but so far I’ve found it incredibly restrictive: there seems to be only one way of saying things, and one way of writing them. That isn’t a problem, per se: just as when I learned about structure in poetry (thanks, Harriet!), the prohibitive structure of it doesn’t mean beauty is impossible. It simply means working within the rules to make the beauty, and that, ultimately, is a test of how good a writer you are.

5. Oh yeah, and I also learned stuff like Korean sentence structure, Korean grammar, random useful words and particles, and various rules that make Korean work. I’ve  gained enough comprehension to be able to understand about 30 percent of a KDrama with the subbies off, and can speak and write in simple–very simple–sentences. I also know how to say “Wanna die”, “What the heck”, and “Awesome”, along with other slightly slangy things.

6. The insanely long words. Dudes. Korean words can be so long! This is frustrating for me because I’m still sounding things out while running my finger along the bottom of the word like a little kid. I get to the end of the word at last, and I’ve forgotten how the whole thing fits together.

All in all, just as with my writing, there are moments when I have the depressed feeling that I’ll never be able to do it, and that I’ll have to give up in ignominy. Fortunately, those moments are balanced out by the flying feeling that I get every so often when I learn some new bit that connects several other bits together and makes a wonderful big whole of comprehension in my mind. Those are the moments I love, because I know that, just like my dream of being an author, it’s a dream that is achievable for me.

화이팅!

These are a Few of my Favourite Things: MAIRELON THE MAGICIAN

Screenshot (45)

Mairelon the Magician by Patricia Wrede

Mairelon the Magician. What can I say about it? Well, it’s by Patricia Wrede, which almost guaranteed that I’d like it, even if I hadn’t, you know, liked it. It’s Fantasy. But it’s Regency. Well, it’s a Mystery, though. Oh, and also Adventure. Comedy. Did I mention it’s a Regency?!

There aren’t that many Fantasy/Regency blends out there–well, not many GOOD ones, anyway–so when I find one that’s good, I tend to enjoy it a great deal and re-read it often. Mairelon the Magician (and its sequel, The Magician’s Ward) are no exception to that rule. They’re two of the best Fantasy/Regency books you’ll find, and are even more enjoyable than the rather better known Fantasy/Regency blend Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.

“What have you done with the Sacred Dish?” Jon grated.

“Lost it in a card game,” Meredith said.

Things I like about Mairelon?

Well.

There’s a street urchin boy who is actually a girl. That’s always a winner with me. (It’s not a spoiler, you know in the first page–relax). Maybe it’s because I wanted to be a boy when I was a kid, or maybe it’s because I always wanted to be a street urchin: whatever the reason, I’ll almost never say no to an MC street urchin girl-pretending-to-be-boy.

There’s a plump-faced, magician, main character (Mairelon himself, in case you were wondering) who is delightfully irritating and deceptively ineffectual. He is SUCH a fun character. He has me laughing the whole way through every re-read.

Oh. And Mairelon has a henchman called Hunch. I’m not sure why I find this so incredibly satisfying, but I do. I find it even more satisfying that his henchman called Hunch has a mustache–and I can only hope it’s a handlebar one (we are told that he frequently chews the ends of it, so I’m gonna believe what I want to believe).

Avid Heyerites will recognise many familiar words, phrases, and themes. Even the structure will be familiar. Despite that, the whole thing has an original feel to it that is very hard to achieve with anything that can (and will always) be compared to Heyer. It’s madcap and ridiculous and just outright FUN. You should definitely read it.

EOM Wrap-Up: Should Have Done versus Did Do

Okay, it’s not the end of the month, but it’s close.

And if you’ve been paying attention up until now, you’ll know that I’m in the last few days of a whole month off work. I planned to use this month in writing furiously, doing taxes (both personal and business), and clearing up myriad small and medium-sized Stuffs that needed to be cleared up.

I was going to write thousands of words per day, get back into the habit of practising my violin, get a good start on my Korean Language studies, and clean up the spare room, pantry, and bathroom.

I was gonna do a lot.

So. Did I get it all done?

Hint: I’m a writer. Basically, I major in procrastination.

And since I’m sure that you’re all dying to know what I did and didn’t get done, here’s a list for your delectation.

Should Have Done: Write at least 3k words per day, with a goal of up to 6k. I was planning on getting a good 60k of Bright as the Eyes of You written in advance so that I could have a nice, leisurely schedule publication schedule on Wattpad, and to have about 30k of Blackfoot completed.

Did Do: Um. Well. My range for this month fell between 500-2.5k imagewords per day. That’s right. I didn’t even get to my minimum planned word count on my best day. It was VERY BAD.

On the bright side, I got the first chapter of Bright as the Eyes of You up on Wattpad, with a publication schedule of one chapter every two weeks, and the next chapter is starting to come together, too.

(Chapters 4,5, and 7 are already mostly done, but that’s anther story altogether…)

Should Have Done: Violin Practise resumed and made into habit.

Did Do: There are 31 days in this month. Wanna know how many days I picked up my violin to practise? Five. Yep, you read that right. Five days out of the thiry-one. Not my best effort.

Should Have Done: Korean Language studies.

Did Do: Dudes, I totally aced this one. I not only achieved but exceeded expectations Here. So, hooray, maybe?

The homework in sentence structure, translation, and word recognition that looked too hard to do at the start of the month was almost laughably easy when I tackled it this morning.

This is thanks to flash-cards, CNBLUE, B.A.P. and loads of Korean TV, which, as laughable as it sounds, actually is hugely helpful to my language studies. I learn best by context, repetition, and example.

Should Have Done: Taxes (business–whee!–and personal).

Did Do: NOTHING. NOT A SAUSAGE. Why, you ask? BECAUSE I’M SCARED. This is the first year I’ve ever had to do taxes with my A.B.N (I’ve only been publishing about a year and a half) and there was a ridiculous amount of printing of receipts to do. This fear of doing business taxes led me to put off the personal ones as well. That and my natural, inbuilt laziness.

Should Have Done: Car Serviced. Recliner Fixed. Bathroom de-molded.

Did Do: Oh, oh! I got this one! Sort of. I remembered to make the call and get the car serviced, and my eyes are still red-rimmed from the Exit-Mold I used to de-mold the bathroom–unenthusiastic yays–but the recliner thing has me beat for the time being. It’s still under warranty but the store we bought it from has closed down and an internet search for the maker to deal directly with them for the warranty only led to me having a 10 minute conversation with a rep whose company doesn’t actually service my brand of recliner, before either of us realised I was calling the wrong company.

On the bright side, the rep loved how my first name is spelled, so there’s that. It doesn’t get the recliner fixed, but yanno, it’s cool.

So the answer to the question “How much did you get done?” is “Not a lot, really”.

One reason for this is that I pulled my lower back muscles one week–oh! the pain!–and was sick with a resurgence of Meniere’s Disease for another two of those four weeks.

Those are just excuses, of course. I don’t write well or easily when I’m ill or in pain, but I can write.

No, the big reason for my lack of accomplishment this month is sheer laziness. That and the fact that I’ve been watching tons of Korean TV.

So now that I have to go back to work next week, maybe I can knuckle down and actually write properly again…

Adventures in Wattpadding

So.

As promised, the first chapter of BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU is up on Wattpad!

imageI’m having a bit of fun with this, so keep your eye out for KDrama tropes, familiar names, and other stuff. The chapter headings I’m using are all taken from the songs of one of the bands that I’m listening to as I write: if you figure out which band, email me at gingellwrites[AT]gmail.com and I’ll send you a free ebook of your choice. Bonus BONUS points to anyone who can tell me which songs the chapter headings are from!

BATEOY is in its ‘rough’ form (aka, there will be significant editing and/or changes once it’s finished, prepatory to publication) so feel free to point out my mistakes with as much glee as my mother does…

(How much glee is that? A lot. A LOT of glee.)

Here’s hoping you guys have as much fun with this one as I’m having.