NaNoWriMo 2017 | This Year’s Approach

Well, my friends, November is on the horizon again which, for those of us who are so inclined, means only one thing – National Novel Writing Month. Yes, it’s that time of year when tens of thousands of writers get together online, all in the name of the ambitious task of writing 50,000 words – 1,667 words per day. It doesn’t sound like that many words, when you put it like that – after all, every great novel started with an author just putting one word in front of another, bit by bit, until they had told the story they set out to tell. In theory, it’s a very logical process; in practice, it feels like anything but.

Once again, I have decided (probably foolishly) to participate in this year’s NaNoWriMo despite not having planned out anything of my novel. Well, that’s a lie – I am now on my third attempt of writing what I have tentatively called ‘The Upper Deep’ for the last two years, a story inspired by Tennyson’s poem ‘The Kraken’, so I have some ideas by this point. (Check out my Beautiful Books 2016 post if you’re curious!) But I have no plot, really. I have a concept and I have characters and you’d think that would be enough to be getting on with but, as previous years have proven, it really isn’t enough. Roughly speaking, NaNoWriMo participants describe themselves as ‘pansters’ or ‘plotters’, with the latter (lucky) group plotting out their novel ahead of November, probably with detailed chapter summaries and planned characters arcs and all sorts of snazzy things, and the former group winging it all the way and seeing what story comes out when they sit down to write on 1st November. Of course, as is so often the case in this world, there are also those who don’t fit neatly into either label – they are ‘plantsers’, a hybrid mix of the two camps and I suppose, to some extent, that’s what I must be.

So, what is my plan come 1st November? I will be writing, for the third time, my ‘The Upper Deep’ story but, as I wasn’t organised enough to do Preptober, November will basically (hopefully) be a mix of prepping my story and then writing some of it. I plan to properly invest time into prepping my novel, rather than just getting by on little snatches here and there when I remember in October, as I ordinarily do. So, every word I write of plot ideas, brain dumps, character profiles, and so on will count towards my total. Am I doing NaNoWriMo correctly? I don’t know, but at this point, I don’t really care – for me, NaNo stops being fun when I feel undue pressure to keep writing even though my writing isn’t going anywhere, and I want so badly to keep the fun up for the entire month, rather than throwing in the towel halfway through the second week.

With that in mind, fellow writers and/or NaNoWriMo participants – if you are reading this and have ANY kind of planning or plotting techniques or advice, please do share them in the comments below because I’m struggling to tease out a plot structure from my overall, overarching idea. I have the big picture, but none of the necessary little bits that will get my story from beginning to end. If you have resources or techniques or books that would help me to help myself work out this idea then I would be immensely grateful if you shared them with me. And in the meantime, I’ll be getting ready for properly working on my novel come 1st November because, in the end, that’s what NaNoWriMo is really about – allowing yourself the time every single day to work on a project you’re passionate about.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Please do say hi in the comments if so, and we can help cheer each other on throughout the month, or why not add me as a buddy on the siteAre you a plotter or a panster? And do you have any winning techniques to plot and outline novels? 


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Down the TBR Hole #9

Welcome folks to the ninth round of Down the TBR Hole. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my eighthmy seventhmy sixthmy fifthmy fourthmy thirdmy second or my first round post or check out Lia at Lost in a Story who is the creator of this wonderful meme/project.

I’m trying to make this a regular feature of my blogging schedule because it’s good to regularly reevaluate if/why you want to read a book – that way you don’t come back to your TBR years later and have no clue why a title piqued your interest in the first place. I’ve also added a summary of results bit at the bottom of each round so I can track how many books I’ve kept and ditched from my TBR shelf in each round and overall.

Just a reminder of how this works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Outside of doing these posts semi-regularly I have also been culling my TBR list at random points when I’m bored – all of this is good in terms of getting my TBR to a reasonable amount of books but it also means that these posts are getting harder for me to do as I’m beginning to really agonise over whether to ditch or keep books on there. Not that any of this is a bad thing! Let’s get going on the 10 books under scrutiny today…

1. Blood and Sand by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez

Why is it there? I have no memory of this place this book… I suspect I stumbled across the author and then proceeded to add his bibliography as another of his novels, The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, was ditched during my last round
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

2. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Why is it there? Having now seen the musical on Broadway (and planning to see it in the West End later this year), I feel like I owe it to the musical to read the source material. I hear it’s nothing short of ridiculous and dramatic and I am definitely here for that.
Do I own it? Yes
Verdict? Keep

3. The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith

Why is it there? My lovely friend Sarah bought me this for my birthday last year, under the recommendation of her dad I believe, and I just love it when people buy me books as a surprise. I’m rather ashamed that I haven’t got to this one yet but seeing as how I know precisely nothing about it, I’m sure it will be novel and I look forward to finally getting to it, hopefully sooner rather than later!
Do I own it? Yes
Verdict? Keep

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In Five Years’ Time | Thoughts on Goal Setting

So, I haven’t written anything in just over a week, which doesn’t seem like a long time but I was on something of a roll back there and it was nice whilst it lasted, wasn’t it? You will have to indulge my self-centred nature for a post (or two) because the topic at hand is something that has been playing on my mind lately, mostly prompted by the fact I recently turned 25 (I know, just typing that makes me feel faintly sick) and partially prompted by Rosianna’s video about life plans, both of which have been urged onward by the fact that I now can’t for the life of me get this damn ‘5 Years Time’ song out of my head – thanks Noah and the Whale.

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T5W | Vampires!

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Books Featuring [paranormal creature of your choice] here is the previously mentioned paranormal creature topic. This topic will revolve around one type of paranormal creature of your choice. So books featuring vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, demons, fae, zombies, etc.  

This week I’ve decided to base my post around my favourite depictions of vampires who, let’s face it, don’t have the best showing in literature nowadays – they mostly peaked with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the general genre has been downhill ever since sparkly vampires became a thing. This observation has also been made by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes in her brilliant video and, just like Sam, I’ve decided to widen my source from just books to media in general – books, TV shows, and films. It’s safe to say there’s a wide range of vampires here, from the serious to the silly, but I enjoy every single one of these vampiric representations.

darkdaysclubHonourable Mention: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

I had to give this book/series an honourable mention because it’s basically Jane Austen crossed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer – our genteel young lady, Lady Helen, trains how to fight demons which, let me tell you, isn’t easy in layers of crinolines. The reason this gets a look-in is because it features a token appearance from Lord Byron and just the suggestion that Byron could have something vampiric about him makes me giggle like an idiot.

Print5. Soulless by Gail Carriger

Much in the same fun vein as The Dark Days’ Club, Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series tells of young lady Alexia Tarabotti who consorts with vampires, werewolves, and demons but is especially horrified by the lack of manners from some of these beasts. I love that vampires and werewolves are an integrated part of the social and political system in Carriger’s steampunk England. Plus her flamboyant vampire friend Lord Akeldama is hilarious – definitely a more ridiculous representation of vampires but entertaining all the same.

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Review | My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

Title: My Salinger Year (2017)
Author: Joanna Rakoff
Read: 23rd – 27th September 2017
Genre: non-fiction; memoir
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“At twenty-three, after leaving graduate school to pursue her dreams of becoming a poet, Joanna Rakoff moves to New York City and takes a job as assistant to the storied literary agent for J. D. Salinger. She spends her days in the plush, wood-panelled agency, where Dictaphones and typewriters still reign and old-time agents doze at their desks after martini lunches, and at night she goes home to the tiny, threadbare Brooklyn apartment she shares with her socialist boyfriend. Precariously balanced between glamour and poverty, surrounded by titanic personalities and struggling to trust her own artistic sense, Joanna is given the task of answering Salinger’s voluminous fan mail. But as she reads the candid, heart-wrenching letters from his readers around the world, she finds herself unable to type out the agency’s decades-old form response. Instead, drawn inexorably into the emotional world of Salinger’s devotees, she abandons the template and begins writing back… Poignant, keenly observed and irresistibly funny, My Salinger Year is a memoir about literary New York in the late 1990s, a pre-digital world on the cusp of vanishing, where a young woman finds herself swept into one of the last great stories and entangled with one of the last great figures of the century. Above all, it is the coming-of-age story of a talented writer and a testament to the universal power of books to shape our lives.” (Synopsis from publisher)

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Discussion | Studying vs. Reading Books

Today, we begin with unpacking the very title of this discussion post: I realise that it’s never a simple dichotomy of ‘studying’ a book and ‘reading’ a book simply “for the sake of it”. However, I chose the title for this blog post because I wish to unpack some thoughts I’m having regarding enjoying a book for entertainment’s sake vs. enjoying a book for studying’s sake. There are plenty of books which I didn’t necessarily enjoy on its own merit, as a singular story, but came to enjoy after further study of secondary material or after a lively seminar discussion with people at university. I would probably count Frankenstein, The Moonstone, Dracula, Wuthering Heights, and A Tale of Two Cities among that number.

This topic has come to mind particularly today because I just DNFed Jane Eyre. I have never studied this book (somehow) in all my many years of studying English literature. I picked it up on a whim sometime when I was at secondary school and read it but didn’t love it as I thought I probably should have. I just didn’t get along with Charlotte Bronte’s writing style or pacing even though I enjoyed the concept and overall plot. I decided recently that perhaps I ought to give it a re-read because I am now older and (hopefully) wiser, and with #Victober happening this month, it felt like fate to re-read it now. Reader, I DNFed it.

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The House Cup Reading Challenge | Sign Up & TBR

Guess what everyone? I haven’t learnt from any of my mistakes in the past few months (don’t join in on multiple readathons and readalongs, folks) and I’m enthusiastically signing up for the House Cup Reading Challenge. That’s right, it’s a Harry Potter themed readathon… so you can see why I had an issue saying no, right?

The readathon is taking place from Sunday 15th October until Sunday 12th November and is hosted by Lauren of Live, Love, Read/@BetweenDPages; Alex of Book Daisy Reviews/@booksydaisy; Kelsey of Kelsey’s Cluttered Bookshelf/@Kelsenator; and Erica of Escape Under the Cover/@slychica08. The aim? Read some books based on the challenges which (you guessed it) are Hogwarts-themed! You earn points based on the number of books you complete which fulfill the Main and Bonus Challenges (20 points and 10 points respectively) and then report your points to your House’s Head Girl at the end of the readathon. Using the hashtag #housecupreadingchallenge on Twitter will also earn you 1 point per tweet (limited to 20 points total). Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

The Reading Challenges

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Tag | The Harry Potter Tag

Guys, it’s Thursday again so you know the drill – it’s time for Tag Thursday. *cue moderate applause*

This week I bring you the excitingly named Harry Potter Tag and yep it does what it says on the tin – this tag is about all things Potter! I was tagged by my good friend Liz from Travel in Retrospect (check out her post here) and I’m not sure who created this originally but, if you know, please do let me know so I can credit them properly!

What house are you in?

I’m definitely a proud Ravenclaw through and through, guys. Although I nearly had an existential crisis when I signed up for Pottermore because it declared me a Gryffindor. I have since decided to reject its reality and substitute my own. Apparently I would be in Thunderbird at Ilvermorny, whatever that means.

What is your Patronus?

A husky – how cute!

What is your wand?

Elder wood with a unicorn hair core, 14 1/2 inches, and unyielding flexibility. Good??

What would your boggart be?

I hate slugs, so potentially a slug. Just one huge gross slug. I don’t even like having to walk around them on paths, it makes my skin crawl. By contrast, snails, fine – no, it doesn’t make sense.

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T5W | Favourite Creepy Settings

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Favourite Creepy Settings: these don’t have to be from horror books, but any setting from any book that gave you the heebie jeebies…in a good way. I don’t read many/any horror books so thank goodness Sam specified that these settings could be from any kind of book! These places might not feature in scary books but they definitely do creep me out!

5. Manderley from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

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Could I answer a Top 5 Wednesday list about creepy places without mentioning Manderley? I don’t think so! Manderley itself, as an estate, sounds potentially beautiful but the way that it is described by the narrator in a dreamlike, slightly surreal way in the opening chapter of this novel unsettles the reader from the very beginning. As the reader is introduced to Manderley through this unnamed second wife’s eyes when she first comes to her new husband’s home after the wedding, and the pressure she feels to be as good as his first wife, Rebecca, results in Manderley having an encroaching and overwhelming presence in the story itself.

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Discussion | Finding Your Blogging Voice

Hi all, I bring you a semi-rare post today in the form of a discussion post. This time, I’d like to discuss the struggle of finding your own personal voice and blogging tone, as it has been something that’s been on my mind a lot over the last few months and it definitely affects how much I blog since it’s constantly playing on my mind.

First, let me explain what I mean. I follow some amazing bloggers who have such fun and engaging blogs. And, in an internet full of blogs (especially those about books), what distinguishes one book blog from another? Largely, it’s the tone, it’s the blogger’s personality coming across through the “voice” of their blog. My favourite blogs are the ones full of this voice, the ones where the blogger’s complete personality seems to really shine and engage their readers. I’m not necessarily talking about big personalities; there are more understated blogs and bloggers that just sound so distinct, so very much them, that it’s hard to resist automatically reading their latest post when it pops up in my Reader.

This is what I aspire to. Or not even that, but to have a more distinct voice. Because I feel a disconnect between my different writing styles and I’m not sure if my (attempted) amalgamation of them in this blog quite works to form one ‘voice’. You see, I am well used to adjusting my tone depending on the audience.

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