‘Beyond’ in editorial & the perks of being self-employed

Howdy-ho, folks.

You know, there’s something to be said for  being a teenager. Remember when it was acceptable to sleep until midday with one hoof out the covers? As an adult, I became aware of the fact that it wasn’t “acceptable” to be lazy any more. Well, it was whilst I was a student, of course, but by the time you enter the world of work, it becomes less a sign of being a care-free, albeit slobbish teenager, and more of being a lazy disgrace.

So, despite an illness I have which slows my metabolism to rock-bottom and used to make me sleep for England through sheer exhaustion, I try to make sure I’m up and at ’em at a reasonable time in the morning. The perks of being self-employed, however, make this “acceptable” waking time somewhere between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. – not the ghastly 6 a.m.-7 a.m. of everyone else. I have no train to catch, no suit or uniform to wiggle into – I need only wake up, eat something, and waddle over to my couch with my laptop.

It is a beautiful way of working. EVERYONE should get to work like this. It saves money for the company and, believe it or not, I’m actually way more productive than I would be in a boring office.

My best friend, however, pointed out that she’s not good with distractions, and being around her TV, her books, her games, the shops – you name it, she’d stray to it. I argued she wouldn’t if she had deadlines, like me, but she insisted that she’d only take longer to do the job and therefore do a *poor* job of it. So I can see where she’s coming from, totally.

Now, why am I bringing up this particular topic? Well, it’s not to boast, although it could be seen that way. I bring it up because last night, I couldn’t switch my brain off at all. I laid awake for hours thinking of babies, of houses, of weddings, of money, of all *seemingly* nice and wholesome stuff. Except if that stuff requires money  – and it does, in shed-loads – then it actually becomes a point of anxiety, not excitement. I simply couldn’t stop thinking about the mundanities and expense of the future.

So when I awoke this morning feeling totally refreshed, you can imagine my surprise. Well, that soon left me when I saw the clock. It was 11.58 a.m.

I had, in fact, slept like a teenager. It was beautiful.

Turns out I’d mumbled something about not getting to sleep to my boyfriend, who was just leaving for work, and he must have switched the alarm off. Utter, utter bliss.

There were no knocks on the door, no phone-calls – not even any work in my inbox. I was left to sleep, and I hadn’t slept that long since I was a student. You know what? Screw adulthood. Sleep is good for everyone. Work to live, don’t live to work, as they say.

Mm-mmm.

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So in other news, my new novel, “Beyond”, has gone through two sets of edits with me, and another with my partner – an editor by profession, as luck would have it. So now that it’s taken a roughly good shape, I’ve passed it on to the awesome Dayna of Secret Lives of Fiction Lovers. She’s offered her services for free, ladies and gents, despite the fact that she has qualifications in proofreading and a backlog of edited novels under her belt.

She has been paid in the past, even though she was only seeking to expand her CV at this point, so I’m naturally incredibly grateful that she has offered to do this totally free of charge. I hope I help some way towards Dayna reaching her goal of working in the industry – oh, and I hope my novel isn’t so terrible that she gets bored and wants to sling it out the window ASAP. I have *assured* her that she isn’t obliged to continue working on it if it makes her wince. Aren’t I nice?

I will be looking for BETA READERS, so watch this space or message me on twitter. I’ll be giving books away like hot cakes – whether they’ll taste like hot cakes or steaming piles of dung, however, remains to be seen.

Leave a comment? I love comments.

Toodles!

Thrift Shop/Charity Shop/Bootsale Haul

Hullo thar!

So one of my hobbies is, basically, buying old things.

Yeurp, I’m one of those retro/vintage junkies who can’t help collecting bits and pieces from the past. Mostly, I’m into furniture and kitchen pieces, rather than, say, fashion and jewellery. I’ve never considered myself much of a canvas so I prefer to fill my flat with second-hand things and surround myself with interesting pieces rather than necessarily be a walking clothes rack.

Thrift shopping is THE best fun in the world, if you do it right. Too many people, in my humble opinion, abuse the fine art of bargain hunting by waltzing into an “antique shop” or “vintage store” and paying whopping prices. Granted, if you can afford it, go for it – but where’s the fun in paying full price? Personally, I always avoid shops like that – if they know the beauty of what they have, they’ll charge for it – and they’ll undoubtedly charge too much. 

For me, the real fun is hunting for bargains, and finding hidden gems. The best places to go are good old fashioned charity shops – or thrift stores in the USA – second hand shops and bootsales/yard sales. Ebay and Etsy are all good, but remember, if it’s really special then the chances are the seller will have reserves, or the buyers will bid the price right up.

I’ve got hundreds of vintage things – recently, I developed a crazy passion for Chance Glass, and I can’t seem to get enough of it. Pics will come!

But for now, I’ll post a few pictures of some of my most recent buys, just to give you guys a little glimpse into my life. 

pricekensington

I recently bought these from a bootsale on a windy Sunday morning, and I was so excited to bring them home. I’ve seen all of these things up for whopping prices before – I’ve seen poorer examples of the sewing box selling for £18-£26, for instance.

The Price Kensington cookie jar is actually something I used to think was hideous – it was a jar I seemed to see in every house harping back to my childhood, and I couldn’t seem to get away from them. Then, for some reason, I decided they were a timeless piece – even though they’re undoubtedly the junky brick-a-brac of their day. Timeless or not, I fell in love with it, and I needed it in my life. I paid £3.

The “fashion shape” gravy boat is just the most beautiful thing, and the picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s 1950s and I use it every chance I get. I paid £2 for it.

The sewing box was amidst a bunch of old tools and other junk on some guy’s table. He sold it to me for just £2.

The plate rack now holds my beautiful J&G Meakin bowls and plates – a dinner service that I’m still building up – and I think I paid £1.50 for it.

Those velvet curtains in the background were purchased for about £17 at a bootsale a year or more ago, before I moved in to my flat. They’re perfect for my huge Victorian windows, and believe me, buying curtains brand new for windows that size would’ve set me back over £100 easily.

chest

A few months ago I went through a “MUST HAVE G-PLAN 70s FURNITURE!” phase and decided I needed to give upcycling  a try after watching too much Kirsty Allsopp. I don’t think it’s a real G-plan chest, but one rainy day, when I set out to find a chest of drawers, I found it – what a weird stroke of luck. It was raining, too, so I didn’t hold out much hope, but there it was. I bought it for £7 and painted it myself. Not everbody’s colour tastes, but hey-ho.

That’s a fake PK cookie jar, btw, which I had before I found a genuine one. I now use it to hold tea bags along with my Sadler mexican coffee bean guy. That sweetie jar was given to me by my mum, the best thrifter in the west. It’s pretty old, but I’m not sure how old. Around 1940s, I think.

formica

This is my beloved yellow Formica table. It isn’t a dop-leaf, but it is beautiful and it is MIIIIINE, ALL MIIIINE! I found this at my favourite furniture shop, Sue Ryder, and it was up for £20. We happened to drive by and I noticed it outside, beckoning me. I knocked them down to £10 and took it home that minute.

You can’t see them very well, but those glasses are Dandy characters from 1989, which I bought from Fairhavens for £2.

kitchen

This is just a little shelf I found in Sue Ryder for £2 and painted white. Those mini casseroles were from my mum – she also gave me two larger ones and a massive crock – so I didn’t pay for those. The picnic tin is, I reckon, probably 1960s? It’s an amazing little bit of kit with a spring top. My mother also gave me that – or rather, like most things from my mum, I nicked it!

teacup

I have the whole set of this – it’s an absolutely gorgeous tea set. It’s either 50s or 60s, I’m guessing. I bought this at a bootsale, along with about five pieces of Chance glass nibbles-plates for £8 in total.

tunbridge

This is an absolutely beautiful Tunbridge cabinet that I bought from Sue Ryder for £45. It was £55, but I bought something else with it (to follow!) and managed to combine delivery charges with it, so that’s what it worked out as. The picture doesn’t do it justice. It’s empty here because I’d only just got it, but now it’s full of 50s pink elephant cocktail glasses and cake stands. I also have a 70s Expelair fan sitting on top because we’ve had so much heat this summer. This cabinet goes for a few hundred quid, so I got a major bargain. It even has a Formica top.

I bought  this when I was obsessed recently with getting myself a bar, like Delboy’s in Only Fools and Horses. I didn’t have space for one, but I DID have space for a cocktail cabinet. It even plugs in and lights up. I wanted a pineapple ice bucket for it, but my finacé drew the line, there, hahaha. I settled for a mini Crystal D’arques ice bucket bought for £2 at Fairhavens instead.

beresfordhicks

This is the corner cabinet I bought with the Tunbridge cocktail cabinet. It was £15, but I knocked them down to £10 and very cheekily asked if they could include postage in the price. I NEARLY got told to clear off – but the saleswoman went soft on me in the end. So, after haggling, I paid just £65 including delivery for what WOULD have cost me £80 if I’d paid the asking prices and the delivery.

I’d planned to paint this white, but decided that I loved the flame patterns in the wood.

Even better? On its arrival, I discovered it was actually a Beresford & Hicks cabinet. One of these, painted white – or “upcycled” – went for £180 on Ebay in MY TOWN! I just couldn’t believe my luck. It now holds my TAMS tea set, the tea set above, and most of my Chance glass in the cabinet section. On the shelves I have some kooky 50s ceramics. I adore it.

30stray

Lastly but certainly not least, I bought this lovely lot yesterday. It’s an art deco 1930s dressing table set, in the most beautiful design, “Kiralpo”, by Keeling & Co. I bought this at a bootsale for £4 and it now holds my junk jewellery and a silver vanity set, on my 1960s Louis-style dressing table, of course! I *think* it’s 1930s, but it actually could be earlier.

That little gold compact doesn’t have a makers mark that I can see. However, it is engraved with the initials “A V” and the date, 10. 4. 47. I’d love to know the story behind this, and I wished I’d asked the seller if he knew, but I got the impression he didn’t. It includes a mesh powder section with a spring-lid and a perfect mirror inside. The little powder-sponge is embroidered with the words “Angel face”, which was just too adorable not to buy. I paid £2 for it.

So, there we are. Those are just a few things I’ve bought recently, though I could talk for ever about all the other quirky bits and pieces I’ve filled my flat with. 

My obsession with old bits ‘n’ bobs definitely stems from my upbringing, because I think my mum and I share this sense of belonging amongst pre-loved things with plenty of history behind them. Growing up, I always joked that our house was like Steptoe and Son’s, but it looks like she’s passed the baton to me.

I remember buying a knitted owl for 10p at a church bootsale as a child, purely because the seller had asked me, “Do you want to take him home for 10p?” It was a hideous toy, but I felt so sorry for it that I couldn’t walk away. Somebody had loved him once, and, after all, the seller had said “him”. You can’t go around personifying inanimate objects and expect me not to become attached! You just can’t! 

And, thus, another thrifter was born.

Do you love thrifting? Let me know in the comments!

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In other news, I just returned from a gorgeous camping trip in Devon, and I miss the fresh air already. It’s back to my transcribing work tomorrow, and luckily I’d built up enough work before my week away to make up for the lost time. I’ve already gone and bought a gorgeous pair of pink wellies, so I shouldn’t imagine it’ll be long before me and my fiancé are off camping again. We’ve certainly caught the camping bug.

The Writer’s Own Slushpile

The hardest thing about being a novelist is learning that your first novel will probably be shit.

So will the second.

By the third, you might have learned a trick or two. You’ve read tons more books since the first and you have a new respect for pacing. The first novel gave you more confidence knocks than you ever thought you could handle, and by the second novel, you’ve finally realised that you really, really aren’t that special little snowflake. Going unpublished is something that DOES happen to you – not just everyone else. By the third, you realise that you’re writing because you love writing, and no matter what happens, that IS precious to you.

Even if it hurts to go unpublished yet again.

This road is long and you’re walking it with everyone else, pulling your manuscripts along in a little kiddy cart behind you. Some peoples’ piles are higher than yours. For others, their wheels are wobbling off. Some people have to keep re-attaching the handle because it just keeps slipping and the bolt never did fit properly.

Others are sick of dragging the cart around, so they think ‘Fuck this shit!’ and they flat-out boot it into a ravine and storm off without it. They’re going to focus on their day job because at least it pays.

 

I am on my seventh manuscript.

That’s not including the countless short stories I’ve written over the years since I decided, at age 18, that I was going to take this writing malarkey seriously. I sold a good few short stories to some terrible markets, for basically pennies, and most of those places ended up closing down on account of them being shite, and my stories being shite, and it all just being shite, really.

But later, I made some professional sales. I sold a short story to Mischief Books, a Harper Collins imprint, and was paid £75. For a 2,000 – 3,000 word short story, that wasn’t too bad.

But I wanted to be a novelist. I still do. And you know what? I am. I’m just unpublished so far, and that is NORMAL. I just have my very own slush pile to work through, and I am a very, very busy woman.

The problem with the slush pile is that you’ve got this backlog of work, which you’ll recall as being terrible one day and amazing on another. You’ll read snippets and burst with pride. You’ll read other snippets and wonder what the heck you were on about.

But mostly, you’ll still burst with pride. I do, and that’s what’s most confusing – because you’re forever left with this question in your mind: why not me?

There is never, ever any way of telling if you’re actually good at this stuff. There just isn’t. You can read as many novels as you like, and coo over Margaret Atwood and even accept that you’ll never, ever hold a candle to her – but it’ll  never reveal a single thing about yourself and your ability as a writer.

You have a slush pile, but you are no agent. You’re just a writer. You can’t see between the lines like they do.

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The worst part, of course, is ALWAYS the editing.

Right now, I’m working through my three YA novels (two of the others are the terrible first two novels; the third an adult Gothic horror; the fourth a novella) and it’s like staring at a mile-high  junk yard. Somewhere inside it are all the parts to build a Ferrari – except I don’t know what a Ferrari looks like under the bonnet, and I don’t know how the heck to build one anyway.

Doesn’t stop me wanting to drive one though, ’cause y’know…I reckon I’d look good in it.

That is a terrible, rubbish, awful analogy. I can’t even drive.

OH Christ, you get the picture. Use your imagination – you’re an author, aren’t you?! AREN’T YOU?!

Editing. Urgh.

I finished my first run-through of editing and re-reading my latest novel, Beyond (previously “Prom Spirit” was the working title, just ’cause). It finished up at 80,800 words -ish.

It wasn’t nearly as horrible as I thought it was going to be, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good, either. During the writing process, when you’re all obsessed with the new story and it basically consumed your daily life, it’s easy to just think “This is the best thing I’ve ever written.” I did this. I convinced myself this was the  book to end all books. I do this with EVERY book I write.

At its heart, Beyond is just a simple story of two lost souls figuring out how to let go of their past lives.

In essence, I still love it. But once I’ve finished writing and I’m left twiddling my thumbs, that’s when the doubt sets in. I start telling myself it’s frankly terrible and I’ve just wasted time on this thing – just like ALL  my other novels. Honestly? I think it’s just part of finishing a novel. You fall in love, you doubt it, you despise it, you fall in love again. Swings and roundabouts.

So now it’ll go off to my fiancé, who actually works as a technical editor, so he has a great eye for detail. He’ll (hopefully) pick out any clumsy phases and grammar/spelling mistakes that went under my radar, of which there will be loads. Loads and loads. Too many.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t really read YA. That makes me nervous, because although he’s always very encouraging about my work, it does make me wonder if he really gets it or even likes it for what it is. Naturally, he *loves* everything I write and thinks it’s the best thing since sliced bread. But if somebody doesn’t normally read YA, they won’t know what I’m up against. He also could just be saying he loves it when really, he thinks it’s a pile of cringe-worthy crap.

Those are my fears, anyway. He vehemently denies it. We’ll see.

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I finished reading Under The Never Sky and absolutely ADORED it. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads and a nice little review. Currently I’m reading Hush, Hush by Rebecca Fitzpatrick, which is a novel I’ve always been curious about seeing as it has, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful and dramatic covers I’ve eve come across. I’ve also never read a fallen angels novel, and they seem to have been flavour of the month for, well, a lot of months…

Anyway, after that, I plan on reading the next book, Through The Ever Night on my camping trip, which is in a week’s time. Yippeee! Let’s hope the weather keeps up. How much do you bet I get stung  by a horrible, horrible, horrible wasp?

New WIP completed!!

YAY!

 

Yesterday, I finished my romantic ghost story at 78,000 words. I’m hoping by the time I’ve gone through the first draft and started my first go of edits, it’ll end up at a round 80k – just because. If the story doesn’t demand it, then I won’t worry about it so much.

My working title was originally “Prom Spirit”, because it’s about a girl who dies on prom night and ends up in limbo, where she meets Zachary, a boy who died on his prom night in the 80s. So, those two words just kinda made sense.

I’m now working with the title “Beyond”, because that’s what these guys are searching for – the path to whatever is beyond limbo, the bleak, grey world between life and death.

 

So here’s loosely what it’s about. I’ve only just completed the first draft, so forgive me if this seems a bit rusty (and it will!):

About our characters:

Our main gal, 16 year old Jamie, is battling with the loss of her own life, and dealing with the betrayal of her best friend, all from beyond the grave. When she glimpses her loved ones’ future, she is terrified that her death will set them all on the wrong paths; will her sister give up ballet and become a shrinking violet? Will her best friend end up in an unhappy relationship with Jamie’s ex, Ted? Will her parents ruin their marriage? Jamie decides she can’t let that happen – not if she has the power to set things right. Jamie must tread the fine line between ‘just visiting’…and haunting.

Zachary, a moody yet sentimental dancer, is hiding a dark secret about his death and the circumstances surrounding it. With nobody to confide in and all his resentment bottled up inside, he has lived alone in limbo for 29 years, refusing to make peace with his past and all the memories that haunt him. Zachary doesn’t do haunting; he lives in the now, and that’s how he likes it. Until Jamie comes along, that is, and turns all his stubborn ways and everything he’d grown to understand on its head.

Jamie knows they need to work together, because – duh! – she’s see the film Ghost and knows how these afterlife deals work. It’s Zachary that’s the problem – all he wants is somebody to dance with, and she wants to crack on with the haunting. They can’t faff around with flying mopeds and dancing ghosts; joy amongst death is impossible. Besides, Zachary is keeping something from her, and falling for somebody you can’t trust is dangerous…even if he’s the last ghost on earth.

 

About their world:

Limbo, the world Jamie and Zachary inhabit as ghosts, is their own town – but it’s cold, isolated and deserted. The sun shines, but there is no warmth; the flowers bloom, but their petals hold no colour. Their world is a cool shade of grey, surrounded by an eerie, mysterious green aura. If they ever hope to see the world in all its beauty again, they must make peace with their life on earth.

That is, if they can dodge the lightning. With every visit made to a loved one, a storm brews. If Jamie can’t keep herself from the land of the living, then she might just get stuck there; separating her from Zachary and whatever lies beyond for good.

It’s a fine line they’re treading. On one hand they’ve got a whole world to themselves; a world where their imaginations rule and almost anything is possible. On the other, they have a duty to discover what their unfinished business is to earn their passage to the afterlife – if there even is one!

Jamie discovers that it isn’t so easy to let go and forget, and while she’s doing unimaginable things in Limbo, her loved ones in The Living are falling apart.

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So that’s the premise, in a nut shell. I always find it incredibly difficult to condense the story into some kind of blurb or teaser that people just read and instantly understand. I tend to over-think things, start rambling, and lose sight of the key facts. /sigh

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be able to start editing soon, get this thing beta read, and then work towards getting the manuscript as polished as I can. Not bad for my  seventh completed book! That’s right, seven – of which only about three or four are any good for publishing, in my opinion. Actually, probably everybody’s opinion. D:

So if you’re reading this and you’d like to be a beta reader for my contemporary/spooky tale, please contact me! I need you! 🙂

 

Book Haul

Just a quick post today to show off my new book haul!

 

I was wandering around town in the sweltering heat, when I stumbled upon a shop selling books with some really great offers. I actually go there a lot and have bought some pretty great books from there, and quite cheaply, too.

Anyway, after perusing a little while. I spotted Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, and was instantly enamoured with the cover art. It’s truly beautiful. Another reason this book struck me is because I avidly watch Lindsay Mead’s book reviews on Youtube, and she mentioned this quite some time ago in one of her book hauls.

I like Lindsay’ channel because she chooses genres that I wouldn’t usually go for, and she always has a great range of tastes. She also reviews self-published works, too, so I think that gives the audience a great all-rounder view of what’s out there. Go give her a follow! 🙂 I’ve also subscribed to a few other book-bloggy channels through her, as well. They’re based in the USA, so it’s cool to see what’s popular over there.

So once I decided to go ahead and pick up that book, I discovered that not only did they have the sequel, but they had the whole TRILOGY! I got ALL THREE BOOKS for £5!

I know! Am I jammy, or what?

So naturally I stuffed them all in my arms, admiring all the gorgeous matching covers, and bought them.

neversky

 

I started reading the first book last night in bed. It was pretty late and I’d been working hard all day doing my transcribing, so the fact that I managed to get through the first three chapters with droopy eyes is a miracle. I suppose it shows that the story was intriguing enough to keep me awake. 😉

So far, the writing is pretty choppy, but I like that. It’s action-packed.

The dystopian setting with all the different sectors and the artificial fruit, etc, reminds me a whole lot of Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, which is an astonishingly great novel, by the way, and probably my favourite dystopia ever. I’ve only just met Pereguine, too, but the character looks a lot like a tribe member in Oryx and Crake. They’re called “Crakers”, and they’re basically a test-tube grown species who are allowed to live in their own little Eden. They were created by a young genius called Crake and socialised by Oryx, who are lovers in the novel. It’s an amazing story told from the point of view of a guy called Snowman who, in the fallout after an apocalypse, basically recounts how jealousy destroyed the universe.

I know. Amazing. There are spliced creatures called “Pigoons” and “Rakunks” running wild, too, so you NEED to read that. If you love the Fallout games, like I do, then you’ll love reading Oryx and Crake.

So yeah, there’s many clues so far that hint to me that perhaps Veronica Rossi was quite heavily inspired by Margaret Atwood. I’ve no idea if she actually was.

That’s my book haul and my current reading. I’ve also managed to plug a Youtuber and one of my favourite novels to boot. Not bad for one blog post!

I’m hoping to soon give you an update about my current WIP, which I picked up after a long break. It currently sits at about 50k, and it’s coming along nicely. I prefer novels to be in the 70k/80k range, but I usually let them run and see where it takes me. As a rule, my novels have never gone much over 90k.

The working title is “Prom Spirit”, but I’m warming to the title being “Beyond” once it’s done. I think that’s a beautiful title, and fitting, too.

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I am hoping to build up a network of writers/bloggers to give me emotional/practical support during the writng process. I’ve been going this alone (barring my lovely, very helpful fiance!) for a long time, and seeing as I’ve decided to re-brand myself with a pen name, I think it’s only fitting I start reaching out a bit more.

So, if you’re a writer/blogger, please subscribe to me and I will subscribe right back.
Than we can be pals. 🙂

The writer’s day job

Everybody has to have one, right?

 

Well, having worked in various crummy places, doing some ugly manual work in the form of anything from cleaning, to maid work, to shop work, I’m finally doing something that actually uses my skills.

I am a freelance transcriber.

‘Hark! What is a transcribermidooodle?!’ I hear you cry!

Well, a transcriber is someone who listens to an audio file of a meeting – could be an interview, a grievance hearing, a disciplinary meeting, could be anything. Mostly, it’s for big businesses and corporate banks, mostly in the HR sectors. It’s the transcriber’s job to write up the minutes of that meeting in a clear, readable script in the style of the client’s choosing, for a fee. The kind of minutes I provide at the moment are verbatim, meaning word for word.

The company I work for are pretty awesome. They’re international and have freelancers from all over the world producing transcripts for their client base, ranging all the way from the UK to New Zealand. ‘Freelancing’ means that I am self-employed, and the work comes based on demand. Whilst it isn’t by any means a reliable income, it’s the perfect job for a writer. It means that I have time to pursue my writerly interests and complete novels to my heart’s content, without feeling like I’m sacrificing anything.

Freelancers are risk takers, essentially; people who aren’t afraid of uncertainty if it gives them the freedom to express themselves creatively. For me, that’s the most important factor; as they say, never live to work, only work to live. Nobody on their death bed ever said, ‘Gosh, I just wish I’d spent more time in that office.’

Besides, transcribing isn’t easy – it’s an actual, genuine skill unique to writers. How many people’s hands could stand writing up to 20,000 words on a busy day? Not many. But for me, typing is akin to novel-writing, minus the creativity – it’s technical writing, but somehow it still has that therapeutic effect on me that some people get from painting, or needlework.

I enjoy, and have always enjoyed, the process of filling a blank page with words.

So, in a nutshell, that’s how I make my dough. For now, anyway…*eagerly awaits big-publisher-person to smash the door in and shower me with money*

I’m currently working on…

…A new YA!

 

Howdy folks,

 

I just thought I’d do a little blog about the current YA novel I’m working on. This one got put aside for a while after one rejection too many sent me into a total slump. You know that feeling, when you just ask yourself if all the fretting and frantic writing is worth it? Well, it is. You just have to make it worthwhile for you and not for anybody else. Not an agent, not a publisher, but you.

This whole writing gig began from a deep passion of mine to write stories, right? So what’s changed?

 

So the working title for this ghostly romance is Prom Spirit. It’s about a 16 year old girl called Jamie, who dies on prom night after a fight with her best friend and boyfriend, only to discover herself alone in limbo, where the world is grey and isolated, and her only companion is…a boy who died on his prom night in the 80s.

Jamie must re-visit the past, present and future alongside 80s boy Zachary, to discover how her death affected the lives of those who loved her – especially her little sister Leah, who must now grow up without her – and to find out how she’ll ever move on to the afterlife  – if there even is one.

But what about mysterious Zachary? Zachary has enjoyed solitude far too long. In limbo, he can forget his past and focus on his love of dancing without the critical eyes of an entire high school to judge him. Shady about his death, Zachary wants to live in the now and forget about the world – both of the living, and of the dead.

Now, he wants Jamie to do the same. But is it easy to just forget everything when your life has been cut short? And what secret is Zachary hiding about his death?

These prom spirits (SEE WHAT I DID THERE!) don’t know why they’ve been lumped together in limbo, but Jamie intends to find out. Ghosts always have unfinished business, right? So it’s their job, together, to discover what that unfinished business is.

Sounds easy…until love gets in the way.

 

This story incluuuuudes (but is not limited to!):

 

A small town turned creepy limbo other-world:

 

smalltown

 

A dog called Peanut with a sixth sense:

dog

 

A gaze at the stars from a quiet, unlit city rooftop all alone:

city

A  beautiful black prom dress with a green sash:

dress

A couple of small-town friends who are torn apart:

ghostworld

A magical flying moped:

moped

An adorable ghost-boy with all the personality of Duckie from Pretty in Pink (if not that sense of humour – ain’t nobody got his sense of humour!)

and a very fetching 80s prom outfit not too dissimilar to young Duckworth’s:

duckie

But with Steff’s hair.

Because we’ve all secretly got a crush on Steff even though he is horrible. No? Just me then:

steph

 

So there we have it. Just a little teaser about what I’m currently working on, and I hope you think it’s as cool as I do. Though be fair, nobody ever really thinks ANYTHING is as cool as I do, because…well, who says I’m cool?!

Now someone needs to sign me ASAP.

 

Toodles!

 

 

T

 

The Books that Made Me

Getting to knoooow you…Getting to know aaaaall abooooou-

 

Enough of that.

 

So given that this is a new blog, I think it’s a cracking good idea that I reveal just a few tidbits about me to get you, the reader – yes, you – interested. Maybe we’ll find some common ground, or maybe we’ll discover that we have absolutely NOTHING in common. But, none the less, you shall know a little bit more about me. And that’s a good thing.

ME, me, meee.

 

A little idea I had was to include a few books that “made me”, as in, books that inspired me growing up. Would you like that? Yes?

Well then, if you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll begin.

 

I discovered what an “author” was when I was about four, I think – around the same time I realised what books were, and that there were lots of them and that I could live thousands of different exciting lives all whilst sitting still. By the time I was about 6, I think, I had decided that the author life was for me. Before then, I’d just thought that books came down from space and that authors were people who sat on different moons and sort of showered them down from the galaxy – not real, living, normal people like me.

For a start, how on earth did they get all those bazillions of words down into a book? Why was their handwriting so neat? What happens if you made a spelling mistake?

Of course, I didn’t realise that publishing was a business which required a team of people to write, edit, polish – not to mention all the ghastly slush pile processes, the agents, the rejections and the acceptances.

So it was with this in mind that, when I was about 9 or 10 years old, I attempted to “write” my own “book”. I’m sure I attempted it a few times by folding bits of paper, but that didn’t work – the paper unfolded, got stained and, anyway, I could only fit about three words on it. No, it was after I fell in love with my first “favourite author” that I got hold of a red, hardback notebook with lines and margins and started my own novel in biro.

It was a Jacqueline Wilson rip-off. Yes, you’ve guessed it. My first favourite author was Jacqueline Wilson, and this – I think – was my favourite book:

 

illustratedmum

 

The Illustrated Mum.

Jacqueline Wilson was probably my first introduction to realistic children’s writing – stories about highly imaginative, colourful kids who are living dramatic, gritty, honest and shocking lives.

And they were lives we, the kids, could relate to.

Sometimes it was because we recognised the characters – such as the illustrated mum herself, who is fun, and fantastic, and vibrant, but suffers with Bipolar Disorder (or manic depression) and can be every bit as awful as she was brilliant. Poor Dolphin is caught between loving her mum so much it hurt and recognising, as she gets older, that her mum is not well. Her mum isn’t reliable. Worst of all, her big sister, Star, is growing too old to put up with it anymore; for her, the magic is wearing off, and the sisters are growing apart.

Sometimes it’s because we recognise the kids – like Dolphin, who still loves somebody blindly and fiercely, even when it hurts. Or like Star, who isn’t such a baby anymore, and can’t help seeing the darkness in the people she loves.

That’s deep stuff for a kids book.

I think it was at this point that I realised I wanted to write about deep, meaningful subjects; about young people dealing with real-world issues. Though I did dabble in the odd bit of fantasy – like Terry Pratchett’s The Amazing Maurice, for example – I escaped into worlds that felt familiar. Not necessarily in terms of subject – JW’s stories often revolve around the foster care system and council housing, which I never directly experienced, though my friends did. But in terms of emotional impact, I was definitely there with them.

JW’s work – all of her books, in fact, which I gobbled up fast as you could say NICK SHARRATT (every kid recognises those cartoon characters a mile off) spoke to me on that intimate level, and every character became a new best friend who was whispering in your ear, telling you their secrets.

#

 

So as time went on, I started to read more “Grown up” books alongside my Jacqueline Wilson books – and all the others from the library, of course, which my dad took me to seemingly all the time. In fact if there was one thing my dad would usually agree to buying me, it was a book. It was our most prominent bonding experience, that.

After reading the Sugar Secrets series:

sugar secrets

I started to become more open to books about teens, and sex, and smoking, and drinking and the like. Of course, still being a whipper-snapper, I wasn’t actually *doing* any of these things, and so it made it all the more exciting to read about.

Being a bit shy, grungey and anti-social (black nail polish was to become black hair, black boots, black everything later on!) there was something really alluring about friendship books, where break-ups were the end of the world and every summer was full of drama, snogging and mystery. They were brilliant novella-length books that, much like JW, could be gobbled up one after the other like Smarties.

Delicious, delicious Smarties.

So then, after a tip-off from a pal of mine, I became even MORE open to outlandish books full of drama, sex and scandal, and I discovered…

This.

flowers

 

Flowers in the Attic.

 

V C Andrews, to this day, is one of my favourite authors. I recently finished the first two books of the Casteel series and loved them every little bit as much as I loved this. Although dear, talented Virginia Andrews died before she could write any more, the franchise has branched out to include hundreds of ghost-written novels of the same ingredients – the gothic mystery, drama and tension that we all came to love.

But of course, none of them could hold a candle to the originals.

Flowers in the Attic was the first guilty-pleasure book I ever read, and I was 12. Seeing my undying passion for these books, my mum rushed out and scooped up the rest of the series from a charity shop – something she still does for me today!- and I gobbled them up, yes, like Smarties.

Flowers was the first gothic romance I’d ever read, and it was filled with hate-filled lust, misery, torment – you name it. Cathy and Chris Dollanganger were my saints and I loved them, even when their dark brother/sister relationship turned a little weird while they were locked up in that attic loft with their little siblings, Corie and Carrie.

Yep, this is the one you’ve heard about – the incest story.

V C had these wickedly amazing talent for developing characters to the point where their confused, weird, erotic relationship had a twisted sense to it. After all, they were just children locked in an attic, and as those children grew into adults, they became dependant only on each other. They created a surrogate family for themselves in the lofty attic rooms of Foxworth hall, the gothic mansion where they were trapped by their own wicked mother.

All right, it’s weird, and kind of gross- but that’s the beauty of FICTION!

Every dress, every hair style, every meager meal they were fed under lock and key – all were described so beautifully that even the paper flowers which decorated the attic became a vast and looming garden. Every Ballet step by Cathy was a gorgeous, moonlit performance. Everything was dark, and troublesome, and undeniably beautiful.

It was also full of sex – with details, too, which my 12 year old mind was just going crazy for. You can imagine.

The swan-shaped bed that features in the later books would forever haunt me – as seen in the film Sunset Blvd, actually – and be a dream of mine to this day. I must have a swan-shaped bed.

 

Even though Flowers was never considered a gothic romance of the calibre of, let’s say, the Bronté sisters – whom I also love and adore, by the way – it was a novel that took the world by storm. Even when it was released around 30 years ago-ish, thousands and thousands of teenage girls, or almost-teens, like me, were going mad over this novel.

And they still are to this day.

#

 

So, though there were arguably many, many books that made me, I think those were my earliest influences that stand out for me. Later, of course, I would read things like The Beach by Alex Garland, and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and many other beautiful, dark and mysterious books.

And they would all fuel one desire within me: to write gritty realism from the point of view of teenagers and young adults.

Naturally, like all authors, published and not – I’m still learning, and still searching for that dark story to tell.

 

But those are the books that took me there, and will be holding my hand all the way.

By way of introduction…

Hello! Guten Tag! Aloha! Bonjour! Etc

 

Readers, nosers, boggers and ear-wiggers – welcome to my new blog, and thanks for popping by. Feel free to have a little snoop about! Here I  plan on blogging about my various bookish-related news; perhaps what I’m currently reading and, just maybe, what I’m currently writing.

You can find my completed novels – which are eagerly, desperately and most DEFINITELY searching for a home – in the “books” tab above.

Please note that whilst Ava Bloomfield’s novels remain so far unpublished and unrepresented – a crying shame! – Ava has had various works published under either her boring real-world name or another pseudonym. Mostly, these publications are short stories, either as stand-alone pieces or in anthologies for pro-paying venues, such as Harper Collins, for instance. Ava has also been published via online magazines, including articles and reviews, and likes to keep abreast of the goings-on in the publishing world. Mostly this includes conspiring with other hopefuls on Absolute Write, or simply Facebooking with other writers in the industry.

So you see, there’s a lot behind a name, and Ava is just another version of me; a dedicated spokesperson for my love of Young Adult.

 

If you think you’d be interested in representing me, or you would like to know more about my work, please contact me here: AvaBloomfield (at) Outlook (dot) Com.

 

See you laterz, mashed pertaterz.

 

Ava