Blog back?

IMG_1508Well, hello there. It’s been a long time since I said that the blog was closing and would move to another site. And then…nothing. I did try to find another blog site. Then I kind of got discouraged and gave up. I give up too easily with my blog. Either I don’t write enough or, in this case, I don’t spend enough time and energy to find another blog platform. So, after a while I decided to come back and see how things are standing with WordPress. After all, there is a reason why I chose this platform in the first place and at one point I did really like it. Imagine my surprise at seeing some changes. The mobile site is *gasp* actually user friendly again. I have a clean screen for my blog post itself and I can navigate to another screen for the tags, categories etc. Can I actually use it again? Maybe; I will definitely give it a shot. (I am learning how to use colons and semicolons after helping my ten year old son with his homework. Having kids is useful!) So we’ll see how things go. I will write some more posts and hope that WordPress doesn’t screw anything else up. Hopefully I still have some readers left… (Come back, please!)

Stay tuned (or watch this space).

Blog closing

As you may have noticed, I have not blogged in a while. When I posted my Christmas story I was shocked to see WordPress changed unrecognisably. I find it completely unusable, with all its bells and whistles and floating menus at the side which do not work, not to mention the terrible mobile site with a menu taking up 90% of the screen. Which probably doesn’t mean anything to you if you are just reading my blog and don’t have a WordPress site yourself, but take my word for it that I find it impossible to enjoy blogging anymore using WordPress. This does not explain why I haven’t blogged for a long time – that’s down to other factors – but the changes WordPress has made do not inspire me to continue blogging. So it is with a heavy heart that I have to announce the end of this blogging site. I will open up another site somewhere else, but I am still in the process of figuring out where.

Another issue I have to work out is the matter of my name. When I started blogging (and writing in earnest) I thought I would come up with a pen name. I did not want to use my own name as it is quite unpronounceable for English speakers (I constantly have to spell my name and correct the pronunciation, not something I would like to do if I make it big as a writer – haha), so I came up with a derivation of my maiden name. A couple of weeks ago, another blogger, Jenny Trout, posted a blog post about her experience with another writer having the same name as her. I had never considered all the ramifications of two authors having similar names, but after reading this post I did a search for Christina Lawrence. And while there are no authors called Christina Lawrence, there is an author duo called Christina Lauren, which is very similar. So I will need to come up with something different. I still have to work out what though.

Once I have worked out the issues of a new blog platform and a new name, I will let you all know where you can find me. Hopefully somewhere where I will blog a bit more than I have so far.

Until then…Happy New Year! May 2016 be full of wonderful books to read and write!

January stats

So, my stats for January. I only wrote on my book for 9 days in January, which is quite shameful. In total, I wrote 9,250 words on my book, which is far less than I would have liked, but it still came to a little over 1,000 average for the 9 days. I hope to try better this month.

I also wrote 9,737 words for my blog ( The Angel’s Game read-along posts, I am not counting any other posts). So overall my word count is better than it has been last year (not counting November), so that is something to be proud of at least.

No more studying!

fireworks-574739_1280Hurray, I passed my last exams! I am now a fully qualified tax adviser, which sounds quite boring, but it was quite an achievement. Until I am a very famous, best-selling writer I will have to keep my day job and this qualification will help me in my current job and any future job prospects, so I am very happy I have it. It was three and a half years of hard work, my youngest son doesn’t remember anything other than me studying all the time, so it is such a relief to see all that hard work pay off. Now I can concentrate on writing and blogging in my spare time!

Christmas season

sunrise_winter_sunrise_skies‘Tis the holiday season! I can’t believe how fast this year has flown. The days just seem to merge into the nights. November came and went (and yes, I did win NaNoWriMo with 60,000 words) and now we are hurtling towards the end of the year. 2015 is almost upon us, unbelievable.

This year has been a whirlwind for me, especially because I have been studying so hard. I finished in the beginning of November, but then headed straight into NaNoWriMo, so it hasn’t been until December that I could take it easy. And of course a couple of weeks into December, I got sick. First the kids came down with the flu and then I caught it. So it is wonderful to have some time off over the Christmas holidays. Yesterday we spent Christmas with just the four of us, which was wonderful and relaxing. We don’t have much else planned for the time off, so I intend to catch up on blogging and writing my book, which hasn’t progressed much after the end of November. I intend to blog more, but then it seems I always have that intention and then it all goes right out the window. Maybe now with no studying clogging up my time I can actually focus on things I enjoy.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you all a great New Year, although I hope to pop in here before the end of this year.

NaNoWriMo, Studying and Working

NaNoWriMo Participant-2014-Square-ButtonHello, my friends! Is anyone still out there? It has been ever so long since I wrote, I am a bit ashamed. In my defense, I have been very busy studying for my very last two exams for my tax qualification and I have been stressed out of my mind about it. I think it’s just because this is the home stretch and I so much want it all to be over. The last weeks have been especially tough, but I have two more days of revision, then two days of working and then next weeks are my exams. If I pass these, it will all finally be over and I will be able to spend a lot more time doing things I love. Like writing, doing my blog (which is of course also writing), reading, crocheting. So I think I can be forgiven for being very anxious for it to be over.

However, not all is doom and gloom here. I am once again preparing to participate in NaNoWriMo in November. Unfortunately I won’t have much chance to write before the 5th of November when my last exam is, but I will just have to catch up on other days. (I am sure I will be able to sneak some time in, after all, one does sometimes have to take a break from studying, right?)

I was originally thinking of finishing my poor 2013 NaNoWriMo novel, which got a bit snowed under and forgotten by all the studying that followed November last year. For one I wouldn’t have had to come up with another story and I genuinely liked what I had started. Also, I felt bad to just abandon my poor novel.

But…(and we all felt this BUT coming) I got a great idea which I would love to explore further, so I have decided to start something new this year. After all, with my exams out of the way I will have oodles of time to finish both novels and edit them. And I also did not feel like being a rebel (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). So, a new idea it is. Due to time pressures I am going to have to pants it somewhat again this year, but that is all right. I actually quite liked pantsing last year, I think that plotting my first NaNoWriMo novel to death sort of took the joy out of it. I did write a quick and dirty plan, I used the 7 point plot for this. I found it very helpful to at least give my novel somewhat of a direction. And even though I am studying and can’t sit down for hours on end plotting and planning, I am still thinking about my characters and their journey quite a lot and I have a fairly good sense of where they are going. So I am at least somewhat prepared.

What else? Oh yes, I am planning on handwriting my novel again this year. Although I write much slower than I type, I do find it more inspiring to handwrite, if you will. I felt more of a connection with my characters during last year’s NaNo, and that could be because I didn’t plot too much, but I also think that the act of handwriting helps in focusing my mind on the stories and characters. And I still was able to write 50,000 words last year, so I am sure I can do the same this year.

However (funny, scary story): because Scrivener is one of NaNoWriMo’s partners and I have heard really good things about them, I decided I would try it out and see what it’s all about. In the back of my head I was thinking of maybe writing my novel using Scrivener if I liked it. So, off I went to download it on Saturday and guess what? As soon as I had downloaded it, my laptop decided it would stop working. (This had nothing to do with Scrivener, by the way, just very bad timing.) I was able to get all my information from my laptop, which consisted mostly of pictures, but I was told my harddrive was bust and I either needed to fix it, or buy a new laptop. As I quite like my laptop, hubby and I decided to fix it. So…one new solid state drive and 2G of RAM went into the laptop. Then I installed all the necessary software and my laptop is finally back. I’m so happy I was able to get everything off and I hope I have learned the lesson to always back up! But yeah, with this scare, I am once more convinced to handwrite. After all, I did buy a whole bunch of new notebooks, so I will need to fill those, don’t I?

Well, that was the update so far, sorry it was so long. There will probably be another period of radio silence as I go through my exam and NaNoWriMo, although I really hope to come here every now and then during November to give a little update. Book reviews will have to wait till December I’m afraid.

Just checking…

Hello everyone, is anyone still out there?

It has been ages since I have posted anything, as I have had to concentrate on my studies (as explained in my last blog post). I have studied really hard and this morning I wrote my exam which went surprisingly well. I only have to get 50% for a pass and I feel like I did answer 50% of the questions correctly, so it seems that all my hard studying paid off. I have to wait until mid July before I get the results and in the meantime I have to continue studying as I have another two exams coming up in November.

relaxBut I can still take a little breather and not study absolutely every day, so I may have some time for blogging again. As I went through my studies I did manage to find some time to read, so I will have a book review coming later this evening and possible another few over the next couple of days. I am also hoping to reinstate the weekly quote as I quite enjoyed that one.

I haven’t just been studying the last few months, ¬†but because my brain has been taken over by tax information, I have not felt the least bit creative enough to write. I have barely even written in my diary since Christmas. However, I have not entirely been uncreative, I have really ramped up my crocheting skills. I have started crocheting amigurumis as they are quite quick to do and they always look so cute. The kids of course love this development and have put in several requests (mostly an enderman from Minecraft for my eldest and a “fluffy unicorn, but not pink” for my youngest son).

On the weekend I have started crocheting a teddy bear from scratch, so without a pattern. I have just finished the feet tonight and have to do the face and the ears before it’s all finished, but once I am done I will post a picture. I am rather proud of the effort as I didn’t really think I was that creative. I usually like following patterns (or recipes for cooking and baking), but most patterns online are ridiculously expensive, so rather than spending money on one, I decided to come up with one myself. Maybe I will write this one out and sell it myself (just kidding, if I do write it out I will post it on my blog for free).

Anyhow, it’s good to be back, even though it’s temporarily. Stay tuned for blog posts and I will keep you updated on when I need to disappear again.

Is the blog dead?

I realise I haven’t posted on the blog for a very long time. It’s a bit sad that this is the first blog lost for 2014, but so be it. I just wanted to check in and touch base with everyone and let you know haven’t forgotten about you. Life has just been extremely busy. After winning NaNoWriMo in November (yay!) I have devoted all my time to my studies. I just found out I passed my exam I did in November and I am now studying for the next one in May. As the material is quite hard and quite a lot, I am literally studying every evening and every Saturday. I have not even finished my NaNo book, but at the moment studying comes first. If I can concentrate on that and pass all my exams the first time around, I can finally bedone and fully qualified by the end of the year. And after that I can devote my spare time on things I enjoy.

So I appreciate your patience. I will try and post occassionally but I can’t promise anything until my last exams in November. I won’t forget about you and will be back as soon as I can.

I won NaNoWriMo!

2013-Winner-Facebook-CoverYes, dear readers, I did it! Yesterday I wrote the 50,150th word of my novel, and with that I won my second NaNoWriMo challenge in a row! My novel is not done yet and due to the fact that I have neglected my studies a bit this last month and have to catch up, I don’t expect to finish the novel before Christmas, but I did write more than 50,000 words in November. I was a little worried as I also had my gallbladder removed a little less than a week ago and I was in considerable pain for a few days, but I still managed to write and finish. And I did it all with my trusty fountain pen and three notebooks (two are full and the third one will be by the time I am done). It does feel good to see all those words written down, even though certain sections are hardly legible. Editing will have to come much later, although I do hope to actually edit this novel (unlike my last NaNoWriMo novel which is still in first draft form).

I am now going to relax, continue to recover from my surgery and catch up on my studies. Thanks for all of you who have supported my via Twitter and in real life.

NaNoWriMo Revisited

2013-11-14_19-51-06_34In my last blog post, which was ages ago, I boldly stated I was not going to do NaNoWriMo, citing very valid reasons such as work, study, kids and general lack of time to do this challenge. Of course, as some of you who read my comments or follow me on Twitter already know, I since changed my mind and decided to participate anyhow. So now that we are almost at the halfway mark, let’s take stock.

Because I decided so very late to write a book, I had limited time to plot and plan. Last year I planned my book down to the last chapter, laying out the path my main character would take. I had read a lot about writing, and took note of how a book is supposed to be structured. Based on that I developed a dilemma that my character had to solve, obstacles that would be put in her way and the final outcome of the whole mess. While this made my NaNoWriMo experience very smooth, as I always knew what I was going to write next, I think it took some of the spontaneity out of my writing. It was structured, planned out and too organised. It didn’t leave room for any surprises, although of course there still were some there. I still really enjoyed writing it and I am pleased with the end product, but I did not develop a deep passion for it, which I think is the reason why I have been so reluctant to edit it.

So, this year everything is different. I had hardly any plan when I started. I had a very vague idea of what I wanted to write about, I had a beginning, a vague middle and barely an end. The only notes I had about my novel before I started was a list of characters with first names only. I still don’t have last names for some of my characters who have already made an appearance. I am also handwriting my novel this year. Last year I used yWriter, but this year I wanted to have something portable that I could use anywhere I went. So I chose a Moleskine notebook and a Lamy Safari fountain pen. The Moleskine was a notebook I had won in an online draw and the Lamy Safari was recommended to me by someone on the NaNoWriMo forums and I have to say it’s the best fountain pen I’ve ever owned. Both fountain pen and notebook are pictured above, you can see that the fountain pen is not much to look at, but it allows me to write big swathes of text without cramping up.

I am happy to report that I am on track with my NaNoWriMo word count. The first day I was able to build up a bit of a buffer, which I definitely needed as I got sick a few days ago and was not able to write that day. I wrote almost 3000 words yesterday, which is quite a feast when you’re handwriting. I am really enjoying my novel, the story is coming together nicely and although I am still fuzzy on certain things that are still going to happen, I find that as I draw closer to an unknown part in my novel, the ideas just start to flow and I can write the part without trouble. I also find that being forced to write slower helps me think more about what I am writing, and helps me experience the story better. Last year I had times where I typed so fast I barely remembered what I wrote afterwards. That can have its benefits too, but I am enjoying the slower pace right now. It will mean I will take longer to actually finish my novel (it’s going to be longer than 50,000 words), but that’s all right.

What surprises me this time around is that I can write a story without plotting everything out in detail. And not only that, but this way of writing is fun and has unexpected results. It does help that I do have a rough idea where everything is headed, but there is the flexibility of changing certain future events based on a surprise turn the plot has taken. Of course you should be flexible even when you have an outline, but I am always very reluctant to stray off the beaten track so I will stick to an outline no matter what. I am not going to say that this book writes itself, it doesn’t. I still have to take time to ponder my next move and sometimes the writing is slow going and painful. But I like the way the story is shaping up. It really feels like a story I wanted to tell rather than something I think other people would want to read (hopefully they still want to read what I want to tell though!). And a few days ago I wrote an absolutely fantastic scene that almost made me cry and that opened up a number of new possibilities within my story.

So in conclusion: I am very happy I decided to do NaNoWriMo again this year. It’s rewarding and creating and fun and worth the time I devote to it. And it’s fun to do it with my sisters too. And now I have written almost 900 words, so I better go write my daily NaNo words for today. Blogging will be light during NaNoWriMo, but I will keep you posted of my progress.