New Year’s Resolutions: UPDATE

Happy Valentine’s day…. blah blah blah…

It has been more or less a month since I posted my new year’s resolutions and I think it’s time for an update! I’m thinking of doing monthly updates on the blog as a way to keep track of what I’ve been doing (or not been doing). There’s no point in making resolutions if you don’t intend to stick to them, right? Rather worryingly, when I had the idea for this update post, I couldn’t even remember what all of mine were! That’s a good sign…

1 month on…

1. Get a decent job/make enough money to live doing something not shit

I have a job!! Not exactly the, ahem, dream job, but it pays well and should keep me going while I keep chasing the elusive dream. Plus I get to wear a cool white coat all day long! Go me.

2. Keep up with the blog and post AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK

Failed pretty badly at this one didn’t I? I Left a four week blog gap after January 14th. Booooo. Where did the time go? I’m trying to make up for it now though. Trouble is, I am such an indecisive person I can never make up my mind what to blog about. I have a load of post ideas hanging around but they often get left unfinished because I get stuck and they don’t seem to flow as nicely as others. I don’t like blogging unless it “feels” like a really good post. I realise this makes me sound like a weirdo. This is why lists are good! There is much less of the flow nonsense to worry about. More list posts from now on (even if they are a lazy way of blogging and can be considered cheating).

3. READ AT LEAST A BOOK A WEEK and keep track!

YES! I HAVE DONE NOTHING BUT READ! I have read 13 books so far this year and am close to finishing the fourteenth! At this rate I’ll be able to hit my yearly target in early June! Having said that, a couple of the books were re-reads… does that count? I say it does!

4. Write some good stuff, hopefully a prize-winning novel

Ah…erm… Remember when I said that if I spent half as much time writing as I do reading I’d have bashed out a million novels by now? Well, as mentioned above, I have mostly been reading too much. I’ve had quite a few ideas for novels but none of these have made it past the initial brainstorming point. Sometimes I get ideas for specific characters or moments and jot them down but they rarely lead to anything exciting. My documents folder on my laptop is now full of half-started stories and jumbled ideas and is beginning to resemble something from Jasper Fforde’s Well of Lost Plots. I think I need to work a bit harder on this resolution.

5. Be more ambitious/positive/enthusiastic/confident

Ah jokes, as if this was going to happen over night! I’m still my usual grumpy self, but at least now I have a proper job and am therefore spending less time moping around in my pyjamas. I kind of miss it…

6. Get fit, eat only healthy food etc

Also failing a little on this point, but am trying out the Harcombe Diet which has come highly recommended by family and friends. We’ll see how that goes! I have also started ballet again although, alas, have only had a chance to make it to two classes so far this year, both of which have been depressingly difficult.

So generally things have been going ok… I think there’s room for improvement though! Basically all I’ve achieved so far this year is to get a job and to read too many books. Next goals: work harder on the blog, write lots more and do more exercise! I’ll be back with another update in March…

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I Welcome You, 2013!

Now it’s THREE POSTS IN A WEEK GUYS! *proud face* *hopes to keep it up*

I originally wanted to call this post GET IN MY FACE 2013 but didn’t want to risk sounding like a total lunatic. Anyway, I couldn’t be more happy about it being a new year! 2012 was a year of great highs (New York, Amsterdam, Devon, leaving my shitty job) and great lows (unemployment, money woes, disastrous lack of action) and I’m sort of glad to see the back of it. Even if January is the most depressing month of the year.

So time for all the promises I inevitably won’t keep. What am I hoping to achieve this year? Well I’m trying to keep the list short and straight forward:

1. Get a decent job/make enough money to live doing something not shit

Because I need a job! Preferably a good one that I like doing. I’m working on a photography project which will hopefully pay off eventually but I really need to find some work that is vaguely related to writing and my passion for books. Waterstones here I come (haha, not! Been there, done that, didn’t get even one free book let alone a t-shirt).

2. Keep up with the blog and post AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK

Because it’s NOT THAT HARD, yet I let months slide by because I am lazy. And I’m NOT going to just blog about teen sci fi or my holidays. WCBH is meant to be about so much more! AND I’m going to make an effort to get some people actually reading it and maybe re-jig the layout a bit. CAPITAL LETTERS INDICATE MY DETERMINATION.

3. READ AT LEAST A BOOK A WEEK and keep track!

Because I like to tell myself that I read about a book a week but found I could only remember reading 35 books bookslast year (and SEVEN of those were books by Cassandra Clare I read in November/December). I’m sure I read more but did I really forget over 15? Unlikely. And shocking. I need to start keeping track and reading more! I’ve already finished 4 books so far this year so I’m off to a good start!

4. Write some good stuff, hopefully a prize-winning novel

Because I want to write for a living, but seem to spend most of my time reading instead. Or not, as the above has shown. Apparently I just spend my time doing nothing at all, staring into space, etc. I need to do more! Discipline is key here, something that 2012 was sorely lacking. I’ve heard it helps if you can get out of bed before 10.30 at least one day a week.

5. Be more ambitious/positive/enthusiastic/confident

Because 2012 was year of the moping, and I’m not doing that again! Time to get it together and stop putting a downer on everything! Sulking around worrying about not being good enough isn’t getting me anywhere. Although I hate that I’m starting to sound like a book from the Mind, Body and Spirit section of Waterstones. Back when I worked there I knew a guy who called it the Mindless Bollocks and Shit section. True story.

6. Get fit, eat only healthy food etc

Because it isn’t a new year’s resolutions list without this on it.

So there you have it. Keeping it short and sweet this year, and hopefully not too ambitious. Ok, maybe I won’t win any awards for my debut novel (LOL) but at least I’ll have a proper blog and toned legs! Seriously though, 2013 is going to be good, I can feel it! Although my resolutions may sound a bit boring and rubbish, I’m excited about getting stuff done this year and not moping around. Yaaayyy 2013!

So just in case I do get any more people magically reading my blog I’d like to start asking things! Do YOU have any new year’s resolutions? Do you think you’ll stick to them? I’d like to hear about them, even if you think they’re boring!


End of 2012 round-up part 2: December

What’s this?! Two posts in a week?! Try not to die of shock. I’ve got a lot of ground to catch up on and some pretty hardcore new year’s resolutions to at least pretend to attempt before I inevitably give them up before the end of January. So what was I up to in December? THIS:

New York, Mini Christmas Puddings and more Cassandra Clare

After a disastrous and faintly depressing November I had a much better, more fun-filled December. I absolutely love Christmas, and spent much of the first two weeks of the month making hundreds of mini christmas

Mini Christmas puddings!

Mini Christmas puddings!

puddings for various occasions. I also went to see Mumford and Sons with Anna and Simon which was boot-stompin’ good. The best part of December, however, was going to New York with my family for my sister’s 30th birthday.

We spent 6 days in New York and crammed in as much as we possibly could, from the Empire State Building (standard) to singing in piano bars in the Meatpacking District (amazing). We had a great time, although I must admit, I was so tired when I got home I could have done with another holiday, preferably on a beach somewhere! I don’t want to bore y’all with a long list of everything we did but I will mention a couple of odd things.

Firstly, apparently, spending $50 on just a steak (no chips or anything!) and $60 on a not-so-spesh bottle of red wine is normal for New York (Sparks in Midtown, if anyone’s interested). Ouch. Secondly, I can’t believe I thought I was going to be able to walk around Tiffany’s and resist the urge to spend all my remaining money on something shiny. Ouch. Thirdly, the Picasso exhibition at the Guggenheim was a tad disappointing but discovering what we called the boob dog series was a unexpected highlight of the trip for me. If you go, make sure you look out for it! Fourthly, don’t go anywhere near the East Village when it’s SantaCon, unless you want to see drunk Santa, dancing Santa or naked Santa.

And finally: thanks weather, you did great. It was sunny, crisp and not too cold. I loved New York and definitely didn’t want to return home despite my sore feet and the cold I had acquired whilst out there. I highly doubt it’ll be the last time I go! Here are a couple of the photos I took on my phone. I took a load more with my proper camera but haven’t had a chance to properly sort through them yet (let alone pick/resize them). I might do a separate photo blog about it, watch this space. Oh, just one last thing! The squirrels in Central Park are CRAZY FRIENDLY. Ok, I’m done now.

BB         ny burger

empireReturning home on 18th December not having done any Christmas shopping was a little stressful. I basically ran around the shops like a headless chicken for a week. I also had a bit of a literary crisis, as I was reading The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo and I was finding it slow and incredibly confusing. In the end, I gave up and failed in my mission to resist Cassandra Clare’s books and even though I knew I was going to get left hanging (because the two series she has written aren’t complete yet) I returned to The Mortal Instruments books to find out what happens to Clary after the satisfying conclusion of book 3.

I read the fourth and fifth books in the series, City of Fallen Angels and City of Lost Souls. I was really hesitant about starting City of Fallen Angels as things seemed to end in a good place in the end of the third book and I didn’t want it ruined. And I must admit I was slightly irritated with some of the characters moping around and not talking to each other properly. Although I enjoyed it as I like Clare’s writing style (multiple character points of view, excellent pacing), I found myself getting frustrated and wondering where the book was going. It did build to a great ending though. I’m trying desperately not to give anything away just in case there are any readers out there who haven’t read the first three. I hate it when people give too much away in reviews.

I loved City of Lost Souls, however. In fact, I think it is probably my favourite of the whole series. I loved the story, it was tense and exciting and built to a dramatic final showdown which had me pacing around my bedroom. I also liked Clary in this book, she finally gets into the fighting spirit and is a bit more badass than she has been, which is great. Simon is also excellent and steps up majorly. I also found the book slightly more grown-up than some of the others. Although City of Lost Souls didn’t finish on an awful cliff-hanger, I’m still desperate to know how the series ends. I can’t believe Clare’s going to keep us waiting for over a year! It’s like waiting for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix all over again!

Oh dear, I’ve spent far too long rambling about The Mortal Instruments series and no time to talk about The Infernal Devices series by Clare, which I also read. Two books of the trilogy have been released so far, with the final instalment coming in a couple of months. The first two books are Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince. I really liked liked these books, especially as they are set in Victorian London and I love all things nineteenth-century-related. They’re about Tessa, a girl who moves from New York to London and then finds out she can change her appearance and turn into anyone, dead or alive. She is rescued from imprisonment by Will and Jem, two dashing shadowhunters. The books are similar in feel to the Mortal Instruments series with lots of mystery, demon-fighting and love dilemmas. I want to say so much more but can’t go on all day (this post is already long enough). I think I like Clare’s writing so much because she is the master of creating lovely, brooding male characters (my favourite) and strong, inspiring female characters. She does all this as well as managing to pace her novels excellently, and I never manage to guess what will happen next. And for these reasons, I’ll keep reading her books even if they are, strictly speaking, aimed at a teenage audience.

The rest of December was spent eating, drinking and partying with my family and friends! Good times. Now it’s time to look to 2013 though, and think about what I’m hoping to achieve this year, and how I’m going to make it happen. Exciting!

Oh my god this post is 1130 words long and counting! If you made it this far you deserve a medal!


Happy New Year!! End of 2012 round-up

Before I move on to this wonderful new year, I thought you might like to know what I’ve been up to since my last post (the one about NaNoWriMo not the one about being hacked!). Well here’s part one of what I’ve been doing:

NOVEMBER: Failed NaNoWriMo, Read the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare Instead

At the end of October, my wise sister told me that if I spent half the time I spend reading writing instead, I’d be able to bash out 10 novels before the end of the year (or words to that effect). She was right. I do spend a ridiculous amount of time reading and not doing anything else. Not just books either, I trawl the internet every day for hours reading articles and blogs. It’s getting out of hand. I am the master of procrastination, and reading allows me to tell myself I’m achieving something as I can pretend to myself that I’m doing some form of “research”. 2012 was the year I pushed the definition of research to its very limits.

Anyway, when Anna said this I did feel a little guilty and decided to attempt NaNoWriMo 2012. What better to get me to start writing? I even blogged about it to make sure I actually stuck to it (LOL). It was all going so well, in two days I’d written 2000 words and had a pretty fun love-at-the-end-of-the-world type plot planned.

After the first two days things began to unravel. I went to three different bonfire parties in four days which meant, naturally that I’d left my novel temporarily and promised to catch up in the week. I wrote a little more on my phone after a drunken night out (totally illegible drivel) but after that I had lost the drive to forge on. I told myself I was too busy, I’d catch up next week when I had more time.

The following week, I discovered the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I’d seen them before but The Mortal Instrumentsthought they looked a little too childish, even for me. However when I saw them recommended on another blog by a grown up man, I thought I’d give them a go. Plus they’ve made the first book into a film and I wanted to check out the books before the films release later this year. NaNoWriMo was a lost cause after that.

I’m not sure why I was worried about the Mortal Instruments series being too young, as they’re similar in feel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Divergent, The Hunger Games trilogy, and many other YA books I have read and enjoyed. I suppose I don’t want to be that person who only reads YA, so I try not to limit myself to it all the time. I enjoy reading all sorts and don’t want to be defined by one genre. Having said that, YA fantasy and Sci Fi is always what I feel like writing about when I sit down to blog. It is an exciting genre that’s getting better and better and I don’t feel as wary of writing critically about it as I do with classics and literary fiction.

Anyway, I read the first three books in the Mortal Instruments series in about a week and a half. The books are City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass, and all follow Clary, a girl who has her world turned upside down after finding out she is a shadowhunter, a demon killer. Clary meets other shadowhunters her own age: Isabelle, Alec and the rather lovely Jace. When her mother goes missing in mysterious circumstances, Clary needs the shadowhunters’ help. Her search for her mother and missing childhood memories takes her all over New York, with her geeky and sarcastic but loveable friend Simon dragged along for the ride. As the books progress, Clary learns more about her past, her parents and the world of shadowhunters, downworlders and demons.

I liked these books because they were plot-driven, super exciting stories with a cracking forbidden love story

Image from imdb.com

Image from imdb.com

(although I did start shouting in frustration by the middle of the third book). What’s more, Simon, who should just be the annoying friend, turns out to be an excellent character. In fact, I’d say that Clare found the perfect balance between keeping the plot moving and exploring and developing the characters. All in all, I bloody loved these books! Even if I am indulging my inner teenager.

The Mortal Instruments series will eventually be made up of 6 books but only 5 have so far been released. Because the third book ended in such a wonderful place I told myself I would leave it there and resist the temptation to pick up the other two until the series had been completed (in 2014!!). Clare has also written another trilogy of books set within the same world but set in Victorian times, these are called The Infernal Devices. Only two of the three have so far been released, so I told myself I would wait until the third book came out before picking up the third. We’ll see how far I got with all this temptation-resisting when I recap on December!

So, that was my disastrous November. Failed NaNoWriMo, went to a lot of parties and read a few books. Any time I wasn’t reading/partying I spent helping my sister photograph a school and generally panicking over my lack of a serious job. But hey! It’s a new year now, so moping is strictly forbidden. Bring on 2013!


I’m Doing NaNoWriMo 2012!

This year I will actually be attempting NaNoWriMo 2012. For those of you who don’t know what this means, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is where people around the world commit to writing a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve been wanting to have a go at this for a few years now but didn’t have the confidence. This year however, I’ve decided to give it a go!

I’ll admit I was a bit late to start with this, I only remembered it started on November 1st last night at around 10pm so at the moment I’ve only written 600 words. Still it’s a start! I will hopefully be making up for this today, cramming in a couple of thousand words. The aim is to write about 1700 words a day.

The big question was what to write about? Well, I have tentatively put that I will be writing a sci fi novel “probably involving some form of time travel” on my NaNoWriMo profile, but I’m not sure how this will play out. I had a great idea about a story involving time travel but have already confused myself over paradoxes and things so I’m tempted to abandon the time travel plot in favour of something more straight forward. Still, they say you should just write whatever comes to mind first, and worry about editing in December. So that’s what I’m going to do.

I haven’t decided yet if I will be writing one novel or several short stories, or even just some articles. My aim is simply to write lots all through November, as practice makes perfect and ultimately I want to write for a living (this is the dream). I think it’s excellent practice for getting into the mindset of writing lots every day.

Here’s a snippet of what I’ve done so far:

“I have seen the future, and it makes a mockery of Orwell and Huxley. They didn’t realise how much power chaos has.”

Cringe! I must admit that when I started last night I was thinking of an extremely overdramatic plot involving the end of the world so it’s a bit doom and gloom at this stage. Hoping to lighten things up a bit today with some ace characters so we’ll see where the writing takes me!

Wish me luck! I’m going to need it to make it to the end of November! I really don’t want this to turn out to be ANOTHER thing I start and don’t finish!


A day in the life of a professional photographer

In the spirit of broadening the subject matter of my blog, I thought I’d post about what I’ve been up to recently. I LOVE photography but am a bit of a clueless amateur when it comes to taking photos myself. Recently, however, I decided to change all that by buying myself a fancy DSLR camera and learning how to use it properly. My older sister Anna Clarke is an amazing photographer and asked if I wanted to come along to one of her engagement shoots in Oxford (she mostly shoots weddings). Obviously I jumped at the chance! A real shoot! And there was the added bonus of having lunch at the Eagle and Child, the pub where CS Lewis and Tolkein used to meet as members of The Inklings.

So, off I went with Anna to meet Charlotte and Mark, a friendly and enthusiastic couple from London. Seeing Anna in photographer mode was quite funny from my point of view, she was so professional and authoritative. It also became clear to me that I had my work cut out: Anna whizzed around at an impressive pace while I floundered desperately trying to adjust settings and get a good shot before Charlotte and Mark were whisked away to the next location.

Another thing that struck me was how as a photographer you have to build up an instant rapport with your clients. Anna is outgoing and confident; talking to strangers comes naturally to her and she can put people at ease instantly. She can direct people without sounding bossy and her enthusiasm is infectious. I’m not sure I’m the same, I’m a bit awkward with people I haven’t met before and prone to saying inappropriate/weird things. In a way it’s part of my charm(!), but I wouldn’t say putting people at ease is one of my strong points. I would like to think that this is something that I could work on though, and after this experience I have decided to try really hard at it.

Being a photographer is also exhausting! We had two hours before our car parking ticket ran out and we tramped all over the city. Anna was determined to get a good range of shots in different locations. By the end of it I was sweating, my feet hurt and I was gasping for a drink. Boy, was it fun though! If I wasn’t so obsessed with books and words I would definitely consider photography as a career path. I still might, if the writing thing doesn’t pan out! Although it is worth pointing out that I witnessed the most glamourous side of photography, I know Anna spends hours slogging away in front of her computer most days.

Enough of my rambling, this post is all about the photos! Below are some of the photos I took. It was fun getting Anna in them too, you can see how she gets her shots – be it by crouching in flower beds, getting dangerously close to cyclists or standing in the middle of the road. At the very bottom are three of Anna’s finished shots (I know, I know, you can hardly tell the difference between mine and hers!!! It’s uncanny!). I want to thank Anna for letting me tag along, it was an awesome afternoon! Also, thanks to Charlotte and Mark who let me gatecrash their engagement shoot. I hope they have a lovely wedding, they’re getting married in Central London and it sounds like the day is going to be ace!

And now for Anna’s shots…


Coming Soon! Words Can Break Hearts Version 2.0

Hey!

I am very sorry that I’ve neglected the blog for a couple of months. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster, what with me getting addicted to 24 and leaving my job in search of an airy-fairy dream job that probably doesn’t exist. I think I’m having what they call a “quarter life crisis”.

Seriously though, the reason I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front is because I’ve been having a really long think about which direction to take it in. I have big plans for the future of Words Can Break Hearts, and have been umming and ahhing about how to make it happen. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be making some changes, and hopefully I’ll be blogging more regularly too. I’ve decided that I will focus a little less on book reviews and a little more on other things, such as grammar, writing tips and me! I love doing book reviews and will continue to do them, but I think I’d like to take the focus of the blog away from them a little bit for now.

So stay tuned! I’ll be back very very shortly with some (hopefully) interesting things to say on grammar, writing, my life, etc.

Here’s a picture of Tallulah being lazy to cheer you up until I’m back: