Preparing for #NaNoWriMo2016

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I never thought I would ever finish my book, let alone have written two before I turned 25. That’s a crazy achievement for me, and it’s all thanks to NaNoWriMo. Four years before I first participated, the thought of doing a month long writing sprint filled me with anxiety. But once I found ways to prepare and manage my idea, I couldn’t believe how easy it was. So here are a few tips and tricks to get you going.

  • Find an idea you’re happy with

Writing your novel won’t be enjoyable unless you genuinely like what you’re writing! If you’re stuck for ideas, or simply want some help to guide you through the writers block, see my blog post on writing a book here.

  • Make an outline

Some people are pants-ers, some people are planners. I am personally a planner, and I feel so much more relaxed when I have an outline of a scene in my head ready to be written. Sometimes I’ll even write the dialogue in script form, just so I can get it down on the page and then convert it to prose later on.

  • Make a schedule

This is coming from a certified planner! However, designating time in your day to sit down and write will help you achieve the 1,667 words you need to win. It could be an hour before you go to work, on your commute, during your lunch break, after work or even before bed. I always find I work better in the late afternoons/evenings, so I always make sure I’m sitting poised and ready to write by then.

  • Enter in your novel

On the NaNoWriMo website, you can start entering in your novel from early October. The sooner you do it, the more committed you will be to the project. You can even upload a book cover as well, so until November comes you can get creative and make something that fully represents the novel you intend to write.

  • Add your friends!

Something that kept me going during the first NaNoWriMo I did was seeing how my friends were progressing throughout the month. Whether it’s a healthy competition or just checking in and talking through ideas, having friends by your side always makes the experience more enjoyable.

Add me to your buddy list here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/clareholmanhobbs

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Either add me to the buddy list or let me know down in the comments what you intend on writing this year. Happy writing!

National Novel Writing Month begins on November 1st and continues until November 30th. Each participant aims to write 50,000 words in a month, which averages out at 1,667 words a day. You can find all the information on the project at the website: nanowrimo.org

Reading Classics: My Tips and Tricks

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Reading the classics can sometimes be a chore, especially when you’re in school and are being forced to study the dullest novel that makes you want to fall asleep the moment you open the book. Or, perhaps you desire to be well read and want to finish the classic that everyone tells you that you should have read by now. Either way, I like to give reading classics a go, and have developed a few tips and tricks to make the whole experience a lot easier.

  • Watch the film adaptation.

I know… sacrilege! But watching the visual adaptation of the story may make it easier to follow when reading the book. For example, if a novel or play has a lot of characters, it might be easier to apply a face to the name. Think about it, you can read Romeo and Juliet whilst picturing Leonardo DiCaprio’s face the whole time. Bliss!

  • Read the reviews.

Sometimes, I feel like going into a book prepared makes the whole thing easier. If a friend of yours has said the first third of the book/play is challenging but the rest of it is worth it, you can rest easy knowing that however difficult the book may be, the ending will make up for it.

  • Read around your favourite genres.

If you love a good dystopian novel like me, read 1984 or A Clockwork Orange. If you love mystery and thriller, read through Agatha Christie’s bibliography. If you love historical fiction, why not try some Jane Austen.

  • Read from authors you’ve enjoyed before.

If you studied Catcher in the Rye at school, why not try Franny and Zooey. If you’ve studied A View from a Bridge, why not try The Crucible. Some authors might be well-known for one particular bestseller, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have more up their sleeve.

  • Read up on SparkNotes or CliffsNotes.

Reading a detailed summary, or giving context to a particularly difficult novel can make the reading experience so much more enjoyable. You can even look up the themes and symbols whilst you’re there if you really fancy a detailed reading. Besides, if you’re studying the book in school it will help with your book report or essay. (But don’t forget to cite!)

So, these are my tips and tricks for reading the classics. Remember, they’re supposed to be classics for a reason, there to be enjoyed, discussed and thought about. Sometimes it can feel laborious, but with time and effort, classics can be fantastic, and might even be some of your favourites.

Do you like reading classics, or like me, have you had trouble over the years? Let me know in the comments!

The Best Birthdays Were Beside You

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One by one, year after year,

I struck off another place

I wanted to spend my birthday.

  • McDonalds
  • The Bowling Alley
  • Our Local Swimming Pool

every party, a carbon copy

of whoever’s birthday was last.

 

Then, there was a time

when the excitement of birthdays died

down, and the thought of getting older

scared me, because I knew I was

one step closer to a future

without you.

 

Now, every time my birthday

rolls around, I don’t focus

on the

  • wheres
  • whys

or

  • hows

There is no where else I’d rather spend

my birthday, than sitting on the beach with you.

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blue butterfly – homesick

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You are silent.

Ruby lips to stomach,

a curved grin, you disappear

between my thighs.

The clock ticks.

 

We talked, we agreed,

and now I’m homesick

for a place that doesn’t exist.

Take it all, every last bit

that’s fighting,

don’t even look back.

 

 

I want you to see

my bones

that touched you,

that lay next to you.

 

I want to take

that piece of heart

that beats for you,

scrape away the skin

that you touched.

 

I want to cut off

the hair that you entangled your fingers in.

I want to grow a new body

that you have never touched.

 

I want to push out

those feelings I had,

I want to stop remembering

how you looked at me

and the feeling

of skin against skin.

 

I want it to rain

and wash away

every bit of you that is left.

I want it to cleanse me

of your touch,

of the way your mouth brushes

against mine

with your hot slick breath.

 

I want to be sick.

I want to throw this up

and get you out

out of me,

out from inside of me,

out from every part of me

that you held.

 

People will ask,

and I will feel so ashamed.

 

I can still feel you here.

Another 25 Facts About Me

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Considering the last 25 Facts blog post went down so well, I thought I would do another… just in case you don’t know me well enough already! So here are another 25 facts about me.

  • My second novel is titled Losing Lola and it’s a contemporary murder mystery.
  • My Ilvermorny house is Horned Serpent.
  • I try my hardest to buy cruelty free products where possible. Boots (UK) own-brand products are always affordable and good quality, as are Superdrug.
  • My wand is 10 and three quarter inches, made from Willow with a Unicorn Hair core.
  • I enjoy reading physical books and eBooks. Some readers seem to prefer one or the other, but I like both.
  • I am currently learning French on Duolingo (as part of my Promises and Wishes list), and am currently 30% fluent.
  • A portion of the books I own I bought whilst I was travelling on my gap year, so I have the international copies instead of the UK editions.
  • I adore all three of Charlie Simpson’s solo albums (Young Pilgrim, Long Road Home and Little Hands), and I never get tired of listening to them.
  • Whenever I travel to a new country, I try to buy a postcard as a memento.
  • I love listening to audio-books, namely the Chronicles of Narnia series and the Harry Potter series.
  • I have a warm skin tone and I look best in bright, crisp and clear colours.
  • I have written two books and I have vague outlines for at least another two, one of which I hope to write this November during NaNoWriMo.
  • Some other series that I love are The Lunar Chronicles, The Divergent Series, The Hunger Games and The Heather Wells Mysteries.
  • I have a passion for photography and usually take pictures on my phone when the inspiration strikes.
  • I love writing letters to people and have pen-pals who I write to regularly.
  • I have a very small, very faint birthmark in the shape of a diamond on my stomach.
  • Before I was born and all throughout my life, my nickname has been Hubble.
  • Fall Out Boy’s From Under the Cork Tree is one of my favourite albums of all time. It reminds me of when I began to develop my own music tastes.
  • This year, one of my dreams, that Busted would get back together and reunite on stage, was completed. My friend Rob and I saw it happen with our very own eyes at Wembley Arena.
  • Another of my favourite albums is Paramore’s Brand New Eyes. It was the first time someone had perfectly summed up the angst I felt about the world. I won’t ever forget how free it made me feel.
  • I love to draw, and often draw costumes, blueprints and ideas for my books.
  • I recently got another tattoo on my wrist of the letter H in my father’s handwriting. Those who know me well will know the significance.
  • The series I want to start soon are the Name of the Star series by Maureen Johnson, the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas, and the Comoran Strike series by JK Rowling.
  • I really love reading and watching non-fiction pieces on True Crime.
  • I am participating in the 2016 Classics Challenge and have currently read 12.

So that’s all for my latest 25 facts about me. Let me know in the comments section if you want to see more of these types of posts and whether you share facts in common with me!

blue butterfly – I saw you

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You were wearing that blazer,

the one we bought together.

I was comforted to know

that there is still a part of me

that lingers with you,

that covers your back

like my hands used to.

 

I did not lose my appetite

like I thought I would.

I did not throw up,

like I had wished to

for so long

to get rid of what was left of you.

 

You sat on a bench,

head bent,

your fringe, wind-swept,

your mind absent.

You did not see me,

but I saw you.

I saw you today.

It was the first time.

blue butterfly – magpie

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My sorrowful Magpie

flies through the fields, you

sewed with apple tree seeds

in our incestual

slumber, we mixed blood

and spunk

inside a mixing bowl, with handles

made from my shattered spine.

I lay on the left side

of my nursing pillow

waiting for your butterfly lashes

to kiss my cheeks.

 

Maybe it’s time to live,

it hurt just as much,

if not more

than all of the other times before,

and I’m sick of all these changes.

blue butterfly – the words

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I keep the photograph that I took

of your house, nestled between

the pages of my favourite book, solace in solace.

 

Stuck to the back

are the four photo booth pictures we took at the mall

in Henrietta, the day we went for a walk

and ate so much ice cream we felt sick.

Walking the spines of books in Barnes and Noble with sticky fingers,

hand in hand.

 

The book was the same as always,

my father’s copy of The Blackbird that he left in his top coat pocket,

hanging on the back of the hospital chair the night he died.

It still smells of the stale waiting rooms and

has 20p instant coffee rings embedded on the front cover.

Of course, you know that already.

It sat on your bedside table for three months.

 

Before I start reading, I pick up the photograph

of your house, admiring the royal blue front door

and Pip lying across the doorstep.

 

I look at each window in turn, remembering

each event that took place in them, each one I crave

on different nights, depending on how much I miss you.

 

The living room. No longer the ‘lounge’

as you crinkled your nose when I called it that.

The living room, where we lay together

on the sofa, your arms around my waist

as I slept on your chest, pretending to watch The Words,

when really it was just something

to stop the sad silence and feeling of going.

 

The bedroom.

Your bedroom that renamed itself ours,

at least in my mind. I fell asleep hours before you did,

as you sat awake feeding your affair

with words and whiskey, tap, tap, tapping away

into the night. Living with you was like living in a dream

world, as you crawled into bed at 4am and whispered your poetry

against my skin. I could hardly believe you were real.

Feeling Craft-y: Journaling Ideas

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I never realised until recently, but I’ve been journaling my whole life. Even before I knew what journaling was, or before I could write, my mum has been keeping chronicles of pictures I’ve drawn and notes I’ve written throughout my years.

I then kept diaries when I was an angst-y teenager, which I eventually ended up throwing away or ripping up because I was too embarrassed about my feelings and thoughts. But now I’m older, and have developed a love of writing, and have gained confidence in owning my own feelings and thoughts, I have found a beloved hobby in journaling.

I love nothing more than putting on some music, or a film, sitting back with a pen or pencil, and letting my hand roam freely across the page. Sometimes when I’m on a train, I’ll put my headphones in and write down my thoughts and ideas, or how I’m feeling today. It’s great to look back on, especially when the pages are linked to significant life events, or strong memories.

So what do you journal about? I agree that there is nothing more daunting than a blank page, but that shouldn’t be what restricts you, it should be what frees you. You can put anything you want to on that page. But just in case you get a bit stuck, here are some ideas for pages in your journal to get you started.

About Me

What’s your name? When is your birthday? Where were you born? Are you left handed or right handed? What colour are your eyes? What colour is your hair?

Journaling is all about YOU and everything connected to your identity, what you think, what you feel, how you see the world and more. Don’t be afraid to be selfish with your journal.

Bucket List

Before you die, what do you want to have achieved? Do you want to donate blood? Sky dive? Milk a cow? Learn a language? Ride an elephant?

Journals are a great way of keeping focused on an idea or thought. You can dedicate a whole page to the idea that someday you want volunteer or own your own house. You could even fill your page with wallpaper samples!

Wish List

If you had all the money in the world, what would you buy?

Journaling is also about escaping reality and letting your imagination roam free. If you wanted, you could buy a quad bike to ride around your mansion. The possibilities are endless and your responsibilities don’t exist inside your journal.

Things to Learn

Knitting? Photography? The Off-Side Rule? Perhaps you just want to write down the definition of a difficult word that you keep forgetting.

Things to Buy

The latest season of your favourite TV show, or the dress you’ve had your eye on the past few weeks? Even if you can’t afford it, money knows no boundaries in your journal.

Road Trips to Make and Countries to Visit

Do you fancy trailing along Route 66, or driving across Europe and back again? Where in the world would you go if you could go anywhere?

Job Titles I Want

Professional bed tester? Professional tea and coffee taster? Professional Netflix watcher? I know these are three jobs I would jump at the chance to do.

Those are just a handful of the pages I have in my journal, along with lots of free writing, strands of poetry, novel ideas, character names, narratives, letters to various people, list of books I want to read, films I want to see, notes, plans, ideas, favourite foods, my favourite types of coffee, celebrities I love, wishes, hopes and dreams, and much more.

Ultimately, journals are all about having fun. Let me know down in the comments if you love to journal, and what is your favourite page?

25 Facts About Me

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Want to get to know me better? Want to know the facts behind the display picture? Here are twenty five facts about me.

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  1. In 2015, I read roughly 80 books.
  2. I’m left-handed.
  3. I can fold my tongue in half width ways. 1458657629148
  4. I am a Virgo, as are my mother and grandmother. (But I have a Cancer ascendant and a Pisces Midhaven.)
  5. I’m the opposite to Harry Potter. I look exactly like my mother but I have my father’s eyes.
  6. I have double jointed arms. 1458657247989.jpg
  7. My favourite authors are John Green, JK Rowling, Dorothy Koomson, Laurie Halse Anderson and E Lockhart.
  8. I have a record player, and I love to listen to my parent’s old LPs.
  9. My favourite era of history is the Tudor dynasty.
  10. I love scented candles, some of my favourites are cinnamon and caramel.
  11. I queued up at midnight to get my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  12. I am an avid fan of musicals. Favourites include, Billy Elliot, Wicked, Jersey Boys, Legally Blonde, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, RENT, Sweeney Todd, and more.
  13. I am a published poet, and have been published in print and online.
  14. I love a band called The Maine and I am a huge fan of Paramore and Fleetwood Mac.
  15. I have a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Winchester.
  16. I wear glasses full time.
  17. I have written a novel titled The Last Four Years.
  18. I have two tattoos.
  19. I have visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL and the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford.
  20. I love journaling and scrapbooking.
  21. I have three piercings. My nose, my ear lobes and my labret.
  22. I am a Hufflepuff and a Ravenclaw. A Huffleclaw.
  23. I am a stationary fiend!
  24. I can play the drums and the piano to a basic level.
  25. I love to highlight, write in, deface and dog-ear my books. I say they’re well loved.

Hope you enjoyed these facts about me and let me know down in the comments if you want to see more.