Tag Archives: personal

5 Happy Things: December 2017

Mid-December, so we haven’t yet reached Christmas – which tends to be a mix of STRESS ALL THE STRESS and Actually This Is Quite Nice for me, so probably wouldn’t make the list anyway…

1.My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. It’s ridiculous, saccharine and completely twee, and it made me laugh so much. It was one of Ryan’s favourite shows and I really wish I’d got to watch it with him, but it’s been fun anyway. I’m only a few episodes in but it will be continuing this week!

2.In the same spirit, friends! I’ve been sending Christmas cards out and trying to interact more with my online friends, and also seen more of my friends in Swindon (we went to see The Last Jedi, which was 50/50 good and ok in my opinion – it set off my editor and cliche alarms but it was a good film) and even though it’s still a struggle sometimes, it’s good to have people around.

3.Decorating! I haven’t really done major decorating for a while, so when my parents went away for a week, I hauled the boxes out of the loft and went to town. They came back to some actually quite tasteful decoration (we live in a beautiful 19th century red-brick house, so it doesn’t really suit flashing lights and blow-up snowmen) and even my father was complimentary. It was really fun to do, too – although I have left the tree for my sister to decorate, otherwise I don’t think she’d forgive me!

4.My Grandma. I’d always thought the expression, “Waking up with a smile” was exaggerated, but she does! I take her in a cup of tea in the morning, and I always get a beaming smile as she wakes. In many ways I envy her; I can’t imagine being that happy and carefree, and she just ambles on through life in complete acceptance of everything – she’s in good health but her short-term memory is starting to fail, but she doesn’t let it bother her. It’s humbling and inspiring, and I’m really valuing the time I’m getting to spend with her – even if our conversations do consist of the same four questions in different orders…

5.Writing! I’m still working on The Necromancer’s Charm, trying to get the damn voice right. Adrian has given me some pointers, so I’m going to see how I do with those…

That’s it for December so far – I hope you are all starting your slide into jolly, mistletoe and holly, and…other things ending in olly…

Ideas & Inspiration: Portals of London

Portals of London is an absolutely fabulous blog, along with a Twitter account @PortalsOfLondon, that catalogues London’s inter-dimensional gateways. It is, however, important to note that it is not a user’s guide. They are very definite on this score.

St Michael, demolished, from Portals of London blog
St Michael, Crooked Lane. Demolished 1831 | public domain

The blog itself is a record of…oddities. Strange buildings. Places that aren’t quite right. The Mithraeum, maybe, that houses something more than just an archaeologically interesting temple. The path on a common that isn’t often there, but maybe you’ll spend your life looking for it. Temporal anomalies, mysteries on river-beds, and frightening machines…

The blog is definitely in the same genre as Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and China Mieville’s “Reports of Certain Events in London” from the Looking For Jake collection (which, by the way, is excellent. And as a side note, I adore being able to reach out and just take the book I want off my shelves. It’s luxury!) There’s touches of Paul Cornell’s London Falling, too, mixed in with Underground London by Stephen Smith and snippets from histories and folklore…

And honestly, I’d say it’s as good as any – or all! – of the books listed above. I adored – and still adore – London; I found myself including Kaerlud in No Man’s Sky, in amongst the Fae-touched world, as a jumble of buildings and history and shops and people. In Portals of London, I love the mix of reality and fantasy, the scientific and questioning nature and the plethora of images and fragments that come together into something unsettling. London is strange, and I love that these fragments pull out that strangeness and make it sharper, turn it into a mystery and a figment and something that I just have the urge to check, just to see, just in case it might be real…

My favourite post so far:

Wren’s Restless Sanctuary: The Church of All-Corners-Within-the-Wall

How To Organise A Writer

This is in part for my friend Mumbletoes (check out his poetry, by the way!) because he asked how I organise myself as a writer. I told him, and then realised…ok, I’m actually pretty organised. So I figured it would make a good article for here, too!

The aim of all this is to track your writing in whatever way suits you best. These are the methods that work for me – and I’ll give you the disclaimer now that they won’t work for everyone. You need to work out what’s going to suit you and your headspace, and adapt whatever you use to your own ways of working.

So, these are the methods I use to track work in progress, submissions, and my workflow.

Work In Progress

  • Folders in my computer. I have a “Writing” folder, and from there, I organise partly by genre and partly by novel. I have “Shadow Series” and “GreenSky” folders, which contain all the stories for those two sets, but I also have “Short Stories” and “Erotica” folder, which are a mish-mash. It helps me keep everything apart, and means when I’m hunting for the thing I want to work on, I know where it is.
  • Backups. I use Google Drive (which was also very useful when I wanted to work in two places at once, as I was able to work online) and Dropbox. If you don’t have reliable access to the internet and you work out and about, get a mini usb – and seriously, BACK UP YOUR WORK.
  • Trello. I started using Trello as a web design work tool, but it works for everything! There’s different things out there that do similar things – Asana is another – but I’ve found that Trello works for me. The basic idea is that you create lists, and then create cards within those lists – so I have one for short stories, things in editing, finished…and then I can move those cards between lists, add comments and checklists, and add dates. It’s a very customisable system.Trello board with sparkler background


Organising Submissions

  • I have a spreadsheet. Name of the story, genre/world, original submissions call with a link to that page, and then a whole set of “Submitted To, Date, Answer, Date” columns. It means that I can track who I’ve sent the story to, when, and their response – which means that I don’t risk sending the same story to a publication that’s already rejected it, because that would be BAD. I also keep track of any comments – so if anyone rejects a specific story but asks to see more of my work, I note it!
  • I also use my calendar to track submission dates and open periods – so, for example, I found out in the summer that Angry Robot have an open subs period this Nov/Dec (currently ongoing for anyone with a sci-fi or fantasy novel, by the way!) and marked that on my calendar. It means I’ll get notified and actually look at it – whereas I know I would miss it if I put it on my spreadsheet or Trello! That said, I do mark short story calls on Trello with their dates, so again, it’s whatever’s going to work for you.
  • You can also use things like Ralan, Submittable and The Submissions Grinder to track submissions as well as find them – I admit I simply can’t read the formats there so I don’t use them, but if it works for you, go for it.

Organising Files that You’re Submitting

  • Mark your obsolete files. I use “DNU” (do not use) at the start of a file, or have an “archive” folder. It’s for anything that is an obsolete version that I don’t necessarily want to get rid of, I just don’t want to mix it up with my current versions. This is really good if you have a tendency to completely restart projects.
  • Version numbers is useful too – save your file with a v1, v2, final, proofread, sold at the end – whatever’s going to tell you what state that file is in. Having multiple versions of a file is absolutely fine as long as you know which one you’re working on – and how to find that really cool bit that you just deleted, duh!
  • I also mark the sold stories! I’ll usually archive the entire folder (or all copies of that story) just so I don’t see it and get confused, and then sell a previous version of an already-sold story someplace else.

Keeping Track of Progress

  • I use Author WordCount Plugin by Scott Grant, which gives me a little widget on my blog *points to the sidebar*. You put in your project, estimated wordcount and current wordcount, and it draws a nice little line. I’ve also used it for books read and rejections received, and it’s a nice way of seeing your progress – or in this case, lack of.
  • The NaNoWriMo site also has new wordcount goal trackers that you can use to chart your specific projects.
  • I’m sure there are some wordcount apps too…anyone use any good ones?


So, that’s most of my organisation….what do you use? Any tips and tricks to keep everything organised and motivate yourself to write – or read, or do the chores…after all, you can adapt most organising methods to anything else!