Thursday, 24 July 2014

How I Prep My Blog

When I decided to get myself into a better blogging schedule, I knew I was going to have to exercise some serious discipline; not to make sure I stuck to it, but to ensure I had the time to get it all done.

I started out with this notebook:

In it, I have a page per subject and then I made lists.  Tea lists, ideas for Thursday posts, and lists for my Writer's Lifestyle.  It's also a handy place to write posts while I'm out and about.

Next, I grabbed the planner I use for work and planned what I'd post when:

Blanked out bits relate to the day job :)

Then I started the job of actually typing these posts... And rapidly realised writing thirty-six posts in one go was not gonna happen.  So instead, I use my weekends to hammer out the upcoming week's posts.  I'll also take any necessary photos, find the music I need to share or gifs that sum up my points neatly.  I'll make sure they're all good to go, then I schedule the week's posts:

As I'm up quite early for work at the moment, I schedule them for 06:30 BST, tweet about them shortly after, and then make use of the wonderful, wonderful Tweetdeck to schedule a second tweet later in the day, usually later at night to take different timezones into account.

Not that I have anything scheduled right now...

While I'm on the subject of Tweetdeck, if you ever find yourself attempting to track a hashtag, like #PitMad, #SFFPit or #ukyachat, Tweetdeck is the perfect tool. You can have a column dedicated to the hashtag and it is so much easier to follow.

And there is my blog prep! How do you go about setting yours up? 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is the fantastic bloghop created by Jaime and Erin. Stop by their blogs and join in!

What I'm Reading

Finished Persuader and it's definitely one of my favourite Jack Reacher books. I really like it when they're told from his perspective.

Next, I read one of my YALC purchases, The Memory Keepers and this is another dystopia I've got to recommend. It had an interesting concept regarding recording and rewatching memories, and I loved the London setting.  It's not actually out yet, but you should definitely get your hands on it if you get the chance.

Then I read Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.  It took a couple of chapters to get into, but I definitely enjoyed it, more than Sharp Objects.  Probably not quite as much as Gone Girl, though.

Alas, I DNF'd The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch. It's YA Fantasy I picked up at YALC, but I couldn't get into it. I feel so bad, because Amy was so awesome on the panel, but there was too much backstory in this for my personal preference. I like stuff to move forward from the start.

Due to the DNF, I'm now re-reading a favourite. DNFs always make me hesitant to pick up something new straight away, so I'm dipping into the Alex Rider series with my favourite book, Point Blanc. 

What I'm Writing

Blog posts, and that's about it. That desire to rewrite Resistance isn't going anywhere, and I keep mulling over various options. I did put pen to paper yesterday and scribble the start of it, whoops!
So much for taking the summer off. When I say rewrite, I mean surgically removing the characters, putting them to one side and then demolishing just about everything else...

What Else I'm Up To

...Work ^^; But I have two days off next week, and a spa day booked with friends, so that's keeping me going ;)

What Inspires Me

I've been working so much lately, my poor violin has been rather neglected. So sorry, Hans! But I'm still listening to string music, and I found some fiddle music I absolutely love playing, courtesy of the Bioshock Infinite soundtrack. It's so upbeat and jolly! A great midweek motivator ;)

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Miss Cole's Tea Time - Kent and Sussex Pluckley Tea

Today I'm sharing a fantastic and extremely budget friendly tea. Kent and Sussex's Pluckley Tea isn't only amazing value for money, it's also delicious!

As great as it is to treat myself to the more expensive teas I've covered in these reviews, every now and then I have to rein myself in. It's not always easy finding budget-friendly tea that also tastes nice, but Pluckley is wonderful.  It's a nice, soothing cup to have as you take a seat, pick up a notebook and get to work.  I'm not working on anything in particular right now, so it's nice to sit at my desk, listen to some music and just see where my imagination goes.  This tea is a perfect accompaniment to the brainstorming!

I brew for three minutes, add milk, take it to my desk and sip while I daydream.  Aaaah, lovely!

What's your favourite budget-friendly tea?

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Writing Lifestyle: Cole's Writer's Lookbook Summer 2014

Oh yes, we writers sure are a stylish bunch.

We've got t-shirts, hoodies, pyjama bottoms and, best of all, lots of sweatpants.  I mean, why waste time getting dressed up when you have the perfect excuse to spend a day in your pyjamas or most comfortable clothes?

I mean, we've got the "just got out of bed and need to write" look...

There's the "bought these sweatpants just so I could sit around and write in them" look...

Don't forget hoodies. These are essential! Sometimes you need to stay warm... even in summer! Plus everyone knows wearing a hood produces even more words!


Ah, but maybe you have got to go out... so how about the "just showered, gotta go to work, but there's still time to write!" look?

And, best of all, the "just showered, not going anywhere... FRESH PYJAMAS!!!!" look :D

What's your favourite writer fashion style? ;)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

No, I Won't Write Every Day!

I used to think writing daily was essential. Like, if I stopped for even a single day, the idea would run away forever.

But then one day life got in the way and I stopped writing daily.

She's... she's lost it...

And guess what? The story didn't run away from me.

When you're really connecting with an idea, the need to write can completely take over and you'll find yourself writing daily no matter what. But not every idea is like that, and you shouldn't feel awful if you aren't writing every day.  Sometimes it's just not possible. Life has a habit of getting in the way and wearing you down, making the thought of sitting down and writing too exhausting to contemplate.

There are times when, despite all your good intentions, writing daily just isn't going to work.  And, like everything in writing, it just might not work for you at all.  Remember, my way, or another writer's way, doesn't and shouldn't be your way.  We're all unique.  Do what works for you.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

What's Up Wednesday - YALC Mini-Recap

Oh, hello, Wednesday! It's time for Jaime and Erin's What's Up Wednesday!

What I'm Reading

I finished Thirteen and quite liked it. It was exactly the kind of easy going thriller I needed.  Then I finally got back to the Jack Ryan series and wooooow, The Sum of All Fears totally made up for the disappointment that was Clear and Present Danger.  I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!!! All 914 pages of it :D It was a real slow build, but when it got going WOW WOW WOW. It was like 24 meets Top Gun. I loved it! Annoyingly, these books are still out of print in the UK, so I'm waiting the next in the series to arrive from The Book Depository.

Then I really changed gears and read E. Lockhart's We Were Liars. I picked it up at YALC on Saturday. The lady at the Hot Key Books table was so enthusiastic, I couldn't say no to her. I don't want to say anything about this book other than read it and see what you think. I liked it. Read it in one go if possible.

Yesterday I read Seven Second Delay. It's been a while since I read a good dystopia, and I can safely say this one is very intriguing, with a good concept.  Fast paced and full of action, too. Highly recommended for anyone who loves dystopians but has been a little burnt out by them lately.

Now I'm heading back to the world of Jack Reacher with Persuader.

What I'm Writing

Blog posts, mostly.  I decided to take the summer off from any new projects... but my brain is chewing over several things, including a total rewrite of Resistance.  I want to hold off for now, though. Work's a bit too intense to try anything new. Instead, I'm going to let my imagination run wild and see what I can come up with ;)

What Else I'm Up To

YALC in London at the weekend was AMAZING :D Malorie Blackman, the Children's Laureate, arranged it and it was a spectacular event.  You can find my detailed report here, but suffice to say it was a brilliant day meeting fellow bloggers Emma, Laura and Sophie, and indulging all my bookish desires.  I got to meet Malorie herself *and* Charlie Higson, author of the amazing Young Bond series.  I sincerely hope YALC returns next year, and if you ever have a chance to attend it, or a book con local to you, go, go, go! It is so much fun!

What Inspires Me

YALC! Being around so many writers, published and unpublished, and listening to the panels was so inspiring. That is my world and one day, I will be a published part of it.

And my book will go on the wall! :D

Monday, 14 July 2014

Miss Cole's Tea Time - Twinings Ceylon

Ceylon tea is delightful. Every cup is like a hug. You take a sip and can't help but go "aaaaaaaaaah." It's so refreshing. It's a very relaxing tea, which means it's perfect to drink when you've had a long day at work but need to settle down to do some writing.

There are lots of types of Ceylon, but Twinings is my favourite.  If you're a bit apprehensive of trying tea, Ceylon would make a great first cup.  It's full of taste, but I find it wonderfully mild. It's also a nice alternative to Twinings' Every Day tea.

I brew mine for a minimum of three minutes and drink before I sit down at my desk. Like I said, this is such a relaxing blend, it's nice to use as a break to transition my headspace from day job to writing.

What's your favourite break time tea?