Haven by Lindsay J Pryor

Can’t wait to read this book, love Lindsay Pryor’s writing 😊

Book Aholic Dawn

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*EXCITING NEWS ALERT!*

YAY!! Piatkus Fiction have let me know that paperbacks of HAVEN are now available for pre-order in the US and Canada on the following sites:

USA

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2yoeSxC

Amazon http://a.co/9hmDloA

CANADA

Amazon http://a.co/eZ6XoQP

Indigo http://bit.ly/2jXHbRe

AND….

We’ve now got less than 6 weeks to go until publication day! My loyal followers here will know what that means… I sense the onset of giveaways coming VERY soon. 😉 Don’t stray too far if you don’t want to miss anything! 😍🤗

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How’s Your Handwriting? 

“It looks like a spider dipped its boots in an inkwell and ran all over the page.”

So, I’m curious. As a fellow creative, is your handwriting an illegible mess, or do you take your time perfecting the curls and flicks of your letters and words?

I recently read a post on handwriting from the lovely lady over at Plutonium Sox, and it’s inspired my own post out of interest in other writers and their habits. 

The post discusses the differences in learning how to write, and how handwriting can help with fine motor skills. 

It took me back to my own learning experience in Primary School; I specifically recall learning joined-up writing, and I remember being really worried that my handwriting looked terrible, and not how I imagined it should do. 

I wanted neat, cutesy-handwriting, and writing joined-up just made my writing look ‘ugly’. I asked the headteacher if I could just write without joining up my letters, and to my delight he yes (we’re talking 30 years ago!), when I was scared the answer would be no. 

The result now is a kind of handwriting that my husband declared as ‘looks like a spider dipped its boots in an inkwell and ran all over the page.’ It’s a combination of printed and joined-up letters where my writing has developed a style all of its own. 

But I don’t care that my handwriting looks like an Arachnid Assault On Paper. Handwriting is such a personal thing, and is as individual as a thumbprint. I think it reflects us as a person. Having said that, as a creative, my handwriting can get pretty messy, as my brain works faster than my hand, and I trip over letters as I write. 


If I’m working on something that I want to be visually pleasing, I like to take my time ‘handwriting’ and get very cross when I’m having a ‘bad handwriting day’! 

Mostly I give up and decide to use a computer. I type faster, and can get more creative when it’s not word-related. I can even get more creative when it IS word-related. Such as changing colours/fonts etc. 

But there’s something really satisfying about free-writing with ink and paper. It makes the soul sing. 

What’s your tool of choice when it comes to being creative? 

I am trying…

Trying

 

My mum once told me I was very trying. I’m not really sure what she meant, I try hard at everything I do, but I’m pretty sure there was a note of sarcasm in there somewhere. 

I know I need to pick my subjects for school, but I have no idea what I want to do. I mean, who does? All the while I try to decide, the only thing I can see is his eyes, watching me, waiting, expectant for my kiss. In my dreams. He’d never look at me in real life. Mousy Brienne Smith? No-one notices me, not anywhere.  

As if to prove my point, I am pushed to one side by the actual Josh Brendan, jostling my shoulder as they rush past for breaktime, knocking me into the wall. No calls of ‘oh, sorry, Brienne! Didn’t see you there! How are you?’  

‘Ow!’ I called after him, the scowl in my forehead giving me a headache. ‘You know you should look where you’re going?!’ He turned around and actually looked through me, frowned, shrugged his shoulders and then carried on going. Seconds later, I realise I am standing, gawping at the space he no longer occupied, as the children dissipate around me, disappearing into the toilets or outside to hang around the tennis courts. There are a select few who will disappear down to the bikesheds for a crafty cigarette, as if they don’t know the teachers know they all do it. Occasionally one of them will saunter down there, and the smokers will scatter like ants in a disturbed nest. 

I sit huddled on a bench during breaktime. The egg-heads wonder past in their group of three, whispering and giggling at the boys standing by the tennis courts, the leader showing off with a basketball, as if he was the first and only person to be able to bounce one of those things on the ground. They all fancy him. I can see why, but I only have eyes for one boy. He’s the only one I’ll ever want.  

The bell sounds and everyone trudges back inside, a total opposite to the urgency of getting outside school for those precious few minutes. I make my way back upstairs with the rest of the flock and slide in to my window seat at the back of the class. French. The most pointless lesson ever invented. Although mum says we should all have a second language, and that us English are a lazy nation, as we expect everyone else to speak our language. She might have a point.  

Mr Magoo – not his real name, he is very short-sighted – directs a question at the class, asking us to give him the answer in French. I hate this lesson, but I’m so sick of feeling invisible, so I raise my hand.  

‘Anyone?’ he asks, his eyes scanning the students. So I raise my hand a little higher. ‘Jessica?’ he calls to the girl next to me, who is whispering with Lucy. She immediately flicks her wavy blonde hair over her shoulder and straightens up ever-so-slightly from her slouched position in her seat, and clears her throat. ‘Um…’ she starts, and smirks, knowing that her fans bask in her coolness and although Mr Magoo has picked on her, she’s safe, because she always gets away with it. The rest of the class titter, and the teacher repeats the question.  

‘Je voudrais en stilo sil-vous-plais Monsieur Jones.’  

I feel the irritation bubble up inside, growing, getting hotter in my belly. Why won’t anyone see me? Hear me? I look at the pen on my desk and feel such ferocity that it flies off the edge and lands right next to her feet. Those who saw it happen gasp, and Jessica’s head snaps up, her eyes scanning the room warily, then giggles nervously, before picking up the pen. ‘Now, now, guys, you could have just passed it to me,’ she joked, then swallowed as she placed it neatly on her desk.  

I roll my eyes, and sink lower into my seat, and turn my head to the window, losing myself in the world outside. One day. Maybe one day someone will notice me.  

I am trying. 

Short Fiction © Fiona Chapman

Are YOU in control of YOUR life?

I recently discovered a little gem, delivered in the form of a book, which was recommended by Jeff Goins – an inspirational guy who blogs about writing and marketing, creative business ideas and making a difference.

I’ve not yet finished this book, but it has reawakened in me something that I have long believed (and recently forgotten), and that is the knowledge that we are in charge of our own destinies. In fact, it’s not even that I had forgotten this, more the fact that I have succumbed to what the book’s author comes to describe as Resistance. If this sounds familiar, you might indeed have already read this book – aptly titled The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.

Because there is a little war going inside all of us. Resistance – as the beginning of this book talks about – is that little voice in our heads that prevents us from being productive, or making those all-important changes in our lives. That health-kick you keep promising yourself. That change of job you really want to go for. It’s the voice of procrastination, the nagging doubt that we won’t be good enough, that we will fail. By listening to these thoughts, we’ve already set ourselves up to fail. If you’ve ever read Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers, you’ll be conscious of that familiar feeling that stops you doing something you know will benefit you in the long run. Instead, you subconsciously (or, even consciously), make all the excuses you can come up with, not to pursue an opportunity. Often, one excuse is all you need to talk yourself right out of it. You then convince yourself that you made the right decision, and feel better for it. Because it’s so much easier to stay locked inside that comfort zone of those familiar slippers, that warm blanket; to stick with what you know, and not attempt to stretch yourself. Take that path of least resistance (excuse the irony here). Because any opportunity that can make you grow as a person, isn’t going to offer that instant gratification we crave as human beings. It’s going to be hard work, you’re going to have to stretch yourself, and what if the end result is failure, after all that effort you’ve put in?

This book has triggered a whirlwind of thoughts and I’m not even a third of the way through it yet. It’s actually got me sitting up in bed at 5am, drafting this blog post with a cup of chamomile because I can’t sleep, and overcoming Resistance. It has got me laughing Resistance in the face, ignoring the voice of ‘But I can’t drink tea and read! I have to go back to sleep so that I’m not tired in the morning,’ followed by, ‘I will still have I don't have enough timeto get the kids up and do the school run and all the other chores that await me!’ This book has enabled me to go one step further, and actually write 500 words in the middle of the night (it might be morning to some of you, but it’s still the middle of the night to me). And that is the first step to me resuming my life’s journey – on my calling to writing, on improving my health, and the next step towards the rest of my life.

As Steven Pressfield says in his opening paragraph of the chapter ‘What I do’; it doesn’t matter if the words I wrote weren’t that great. The only thing that matters, is that I reached my daily goal. I ignored that nagging voice that prevented me from achieving my work or desire. I overcame Resistance. You see, that one word, that has so much control over us, is the only thing stopping you from fulfilling your dreams and aspirations.

Click here for more information: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.

I’m curious…

Books and coffee
Are you sitting comfortably?
What’s your favourite type of story? I’m keen to start a new project… But I want to put it out there, and into YOUR hands, as the potential reader. What do you like it read? What kind of conflict do you like in your stories? What are your favourite types of characters? I’m not talking specifically about setting, or genre, but rather the characters you, as the reader, can identify with. What really gets you at your core in a powerful story? Of course, if you want to talk about your favourite genre, that’s fine too. Just think… Your input could be the inspiration for the next big thing. 

Leave me a comment below, or drop me a line at fionachapman1@gmail.com. I can’t wait to learn about what inspires you as a reader. 🙂 

Fiona X

Ambition and drive make a welcome return

Three months. THREE months it’s been since I actually sat down and worked on anything. I know I have a valid excuse, but I’m gobsmacked that October, November and December have just whooshed past in a blizzard of getting ready for Christmas, nesting for our new arrival, and just generally being Extremely Busy (not to mention debilitating PGP/SPD).
Today, the kids have gone back to school, and it’s an absolute blessing to get back into a routine, and back to normality. December was a crazy month, what with several Christmas events and parties and birthdays and shopping and organising… the list goes on.
Perhaps this is why I suddenly have a renewed fervour to throw myself back into writing? The timing just feels slightly off though, considering the obvious impending life change in five or six weeks. Perhaps it’s because of this break, and the desire to get back to normal, which is driving me forward. I’m actually brimming with ambition this week, and long may it last.
Time for Love was rejected twice towards the end of 2014, with some very positive feedback and encouraging comments, but no specific reason for the rejection, other than it ‘wasn’t for them’.
Of course, no writer deals with rejection too well, and we’re all told that the best thing to do is just to keep on writing. But add pregnancy hormones to the mix, and – well, the confidence and desire to keep going just kind of slides off the scale in a downward splat.
Anyway, I’m pleased to say that the positivity has returned with a big beaming smile and the desire to make 2015 a successful one. It’s been a rusty start this morning, with total forgetfulness of how to send an email attachment from the iPad, and remembering where to find my contacts (of the people variety, I’m blessed with 20/20 vision), but it feels good to be back in the saddle!
January is often seen as a difficult month, where people get the January blues, no-one has any money, and it’s a bit of an anti-climax after Christmas.
So why not use the time to make some positive plans for the year ahead? You’ll feel miles better for it, I know I do.
And on a totally separate (and irrelevant) note, I really recommend wearing fluffy boot slippers while working from home. They keep you really warm and you won’t have to worry about putting the heating on (thus saving you money). If you have to share your home-working space with your spouse – like I do when he’s not on shift – tell them to get some boots of their own to avoid listening to complaints about the lack of heat (or put a sweater on). Also, (for UK peeps) to cheer you up, remember that there are a couple of council tax free months coming up. 🙂

Anyway, that’s me for today. As my motto dictates:

Dare to dream… then live it. xx

A New Year, a new challenge (or 2!)

It’s a New Year, a new start, a promise of new beginnings and good intentions of success.
After a hiatus of a few weeks, I’m ready to start the year with renewed ambition – together with perhaps one of life’s most challenging roles a person can undertake. Because alongside the rocky road to publication, 2015 sees the arrival of our third baby – having experienced the heart-breaking time of losing our second child in 2013, who was sadly born and lost at 27 weeks.
But this is a year full of promise: the Christmas tree is down, the housework is underway and the nesting list increases as I add to it daily, with the due date looming closer (and in some respects, not close enough!).
I make no secret of the fact that it’s indeed going to be a challenging time, but we all know that the secret to success is pressure, right? 😀
Anyway, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support in 2014, because as any writer knows it’s the continued support and faith in our ability that keeps us going (I wouldn’t still be doing it without such a wonderful group of people). So, thank you, especially so to the amazing TVD ladies 😉

What are your goals for this year?

It IS okay to take a break.

I realised the other day that I’ve been quite quiet on here lately, not just here but other social networking sites as well. 

I’ve been busy doing things other than writing (cue gasps of horror), and all sorts of guilty feelings tapped away in my subconscious. I wasn’t fulfilling my personal goals. I was letting current and potential fans down. I wasn’t supporting my fellow writers as I should be.

Besides which, us writers know the mantra: write every day. If you want to get anywhere, write every day. If you want to improve, write every day. If you want to learn, write every day. Because, how are your dreams going to come true if you don’t write every day?
Quite simply, you’ll burn out. Like everything else, it becomes a chore when you’re having to squeeze it in around everything else most of us have to juggle.

It was a fellow writer who pointed out to me (while I was moaning that I hadn’t done any writing for ages) that it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to focus on something different. And besides which, I was still feeding my creative side, as I’ve become passionate about upcycling and home decor. I’ve always been into various crafts and other home-made things, but have recently become quite excited about this latest trend. It’s not a new phenomenon, though, as my mum tells me it was all the rage in the seventies.

More and more people are shifting away from buying expensive, mass produced items from the big department stores, preferring to pick up bargains from flea markets, garage sales, charity shops – not to mention the various different websites giving stuff away for free – and with a little love and inspiration, turning them into treasured items and giving them a new lease of life.
As such, I chose to take some leisure time and immersed myself in this old pastime, studying books and websites and blogs (Pinterest is especially great for this) and television programmes for some inspiration. Although we’ve not started a project yet, we do have some wooden boxes which my husband saved from certain death, which is going to be turned into much-needed shelving storage for our bedroom. I’ve also been doing some well-overdue sorting and rearranging in our home and feel so much more organised for it (I can’t bear clutter or disorganisation, but the writing is always put first).
Only, now that I’ve taken some time for me to do something that excites me (as well as regain some order to life), I’ve woken up this morning feeling refreshed and ready to start writing again (as well as a need to pick up that cross stitch project again).

So, next time you feel like beating yourself up for not completing your target number of hours/words for that day/week, remember that it’s okay to recharge the batteries every once in a while. 
I used to be a ‘corporate slave’ (as some would call it) and back then, I would take holidays, days off, etc, and make time for my leisure pursuits in the evenings or at the weekend like normal people do. I seem to have forgotten what an important part of life it is.

No matter how passionate you are about your writing, or getting the latest project off your desk, or starting the next one and meeting your tough personal goals, remember that it’s okay to take a break.
(Thank you Alexandria Gilbert for reminding of this and inspiring this latest blog post).

Planning and preparation for novel number three underway

As some of you know, in October 2012 I embarked upon a new adventure when I left the world of Monday to Friday, nine-to-five, in favour of becoming a full-time mother, and writing at every available opportunity (usually when my daughter slept, which gave me a good two and a half hours each day).

In November 2012, I wrote my first novel, during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). What then followed was months of many, many revisions until I felt the story was finished and ready. The problem was, what started out being a contemporary romance novel, turned into what some might call a time-travel romance, which was never my intention. This, of course, complicated matters as there began lots of shifting back and forth to make sure dates and times and scenes corresponded with each other. Then, finally, at the beginning of the year, I decided to put it out there via a contest, and had some wonderful feedback, albeit along with a polite rejection. I’ve since had further feedback, suggesting that the pacing needs some work. So, I decided to sit on it for a while, and begin revisions on my second novel, Labour of Love, which I also wrote during NaNoWriMo 2013.

Novel number two was a fully planned and executed contemporary romance, and I have to admit, I absolutely loved writing it. I had my moments when I wondered if the dynamics would work, but two very wise women both told me, write what you want to write. In honesty, my hero and heroine are more true-life than glitz and glamour. I’ve been informed several times over that the rich alpha male is what sells – the happy ever after that romance readers aspire to. Except, I live in the real world, and people have real problems and have to find ways to overcome them. I’ve read plenty of romance/women’s fiction novels in my time and always love the books I can identify with – the ones where I’ve been there, lived that, had that type of relationship. I’ve never aspired to fall in love with a rich man and live happily ever after. Just a good, honest, loving man, who would take care of me (and he certainly does). So I’m going to stick with it, but will let it rest for a while before I return to it and read it objectively. After that, I might – just might – think about sending it ‘out there’.

In the meantime, novel number three is the sequel to my first novel, Time for Love, which is set in two different time zones and has the customary antagonist. The thing is, the antagonist became so much fun to write and literally jumped off the page, that I felt it necessary to give him a story of his own, along with his very own heroine. So, the planning has begun. Since I finished the second draft of Labour of Love, I’ve been drafting a synopsis and character profiles, and am about to delve into research into the 1930s (the time of The Great Depression). Incidentally, this one won’t be an easy task, much like its preceding story, but I’m going to have a lot of fun writing it.

While I’m busy squirreling away, I’d like to say a little thanks for your continued support. I know there are plenty of you desperate to read Time for Love, and your patience is gratefully noted. I look forward to being able to deliver it in time and equally hope it’s worth the wait. 🙂