The Berk Is Back

How many relaunches has this blog had now? Three? Four? What if we count all the blogs that came before this one? Heck, that probably brings it up into the dozens.

But here’s another one!

Yes, after yet another hiatus, I am back. It’s been a couple of months. Since the start of May. OK, that’s more than a couple, seeing as it’s now mid-August. Sheesh.

We had a whole summer in those ‘couple’ of months. It was a lovely week. I even wore sunglasses for, like, five minutes.

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General Writerly Aargh

Before I start this somewhat grim ramble, I’d just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has bought The Bean Jar recently, especially those who have left reviews. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it!

Succinct. Erudite. Eloquent.

That’s my writing style down in three simple words.

Yeah, right.

Right now my writing style looks more like this: “AAAAARGH.”

Well, I suppose that’s being a bit unfair. When I do actually get words to paper (/screen) they’re coming out pretty well. Only yesterday I rejigged a few paragraphs of Karin Cluster to a standard that made me nod my head in a particularly satisfied manner. Though ‘erudite’ they weren’t. Practically pornographic, yes. But considering that covers about half the book, it’s not much of a surprise.

The problem is getting those words to the page, and which bloody page it is I’m putting them on.

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A Sit Down and a Cuppa, Part 3

I’m back again for some good old-fashioned rambling!

It must shamelessly be said; I am using this as a warm-up for some writing work today. After drifting somewhat pointlessly for a couple of weeks after The Bean Jar came out (Amazon link here, blah blah blah) with little to no idea of what to do next, writing-wise, I’ve got a good old plan in my head.

Um, I’m not actually going to say what it is.

I’m just referring to it as The Secret Project for now, just in case I lose my nerve and give up before I’ve really started (a very real possibility, come on, this is me we’re talking about). More information will come soon, considering I’m hoping said Secret Project will be released in July, but for now… *air of mystery*

Yeah, I’m not a very mysterious person, but that will have to do.

Today, I am sitting in my usual Caffe Nero, with my not-usual cuppa: a chai latte. See, I had three wisdom teeth out this week and I feel I should play it safe with the hot drinks. I feel a nice chai latte will be soothing and pleasant on the gaping holes in my mouth where teeth used to be. Not that I’d know, yet; I’m leaving it to get very very cool before I even attempt to put it in my mouth.

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And yes, I do indeed have cake. So far the cake has proven a lovely soft success on my poor mouth, and the hope that at least this tooth extraction might lead to a bit of weight loss is drifting merrily out of the window.

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Goodreads Challenge 2019: February

Eep. February was… not the best month for the old reading challenge.

Oh, I’m still bang on track, thankfully. But halfway through February I decided to start my ‘Battle the Bookshelf‘ challenge, which means NO NEW BOOKS. I challenged myself to go completely Waterstones cold turkey until I’ve got through the thirty-odd books that have been gathering dust in my spare room for the past year.

Yes, I know. Terrible excuse for a voracious reader.

And although I started well, powering through my first neglected book in a matter of hours (ish), since then I’ve kind of… slowed down. It didn’t help that there was a whole glut of news about the new His Dark Materials series on the BBC (it’s going to be SO MUCH BETTER than that terrible Golden Compass film and I can’t wait) and the new Philip Pullman book coming out this year (I can’t wait even more) (oh heck, I’d better be off my book ban by then). So instead of ploughing on with my TBR list, I’ve been rereading Northern Lights. I couldn’t help myself; I needed to get back into Lyra’s world. Daemons and Dust and bears, oh my.

FYI, my daemon would be a small black and white kitten called Balénessa who sits on my shoulder and chews my ear.

Right, there’s not much to add to the list from last month, but let’s have a cheesy breakdown anyway!

Screenshot_20190304_114420

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Happy 2019!

Big things are coming.

Oh, look, I’ve been neglecting my website again. For a good half of 2018, in fact. That happy little post I did a few months back about getting all disillusioned with blogging? Yeah, turns out that stuck. And for all my good intentions of going back to basics, having a good little ramble from time to time… that went out the window.

I suppose I didn’t think I had anything useful to say. I was just getting on with life, revving up for some big big things coming my way.

And now it’s time for those big things to get underway.

Firstly, you might have noticed that this website has had a bit of a revamp – my own domain name is back, for a start! And, er, my name has changed back. Don’t worry, I’m still happily married. But I’ve always said that I want my pen-name to be my maiden name. It’s far more memorable than my married one, for a start, and my feminist side has always stridently proclaimed that any big achievements I, er, achieve, should be done in my own original name.

And the achievements are coming.

Finally, finally, finally…

Meet the cover for The Bean Jar.

The Bean Jar by Jessica Leather
Oh yes. Oh yes oh yes oh yes.
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A Coffee and a Catch-Up

It’s occurred to me that I haven’t really talked much about me lately, at least not without being in the middle of a review or a more topical ramble. In fact, I probably haven’t really put my life in much context since we left Manchester, or even before. Plus, if I’m writing anything at all I should really be working on my Camp NaNoWriMo, so of course I’m going to find something else to write until inspiration rears its beautiful head.

So while Teddy is happily distracted by Thomas the Tank Engine, let’s sit down and have a coffee and a catch-up!

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Bisous, Tilly

It’s that time of year again – Camp NaNoWriMo! I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo challenges in various forms for nearly ten years now (pause for a slight age-related scream of horror) and my last couple of efforts haven’t exactly gone to plan. My writing in general has hit a bit of a stall – I’m brimming with story ideas, but finding very little connection to the characters I’m coming up with, making writing from their points of view very difficult. So, for Camp NaNoWriMo this month, I’m not setting myself a strict wordcount challenge: instead I’m going back to a story I’ve been writing on and off for even longer than I’ve been attempting NaNoWriMo, and I’m pledging to get it finished once and for all. That novel has gone through several titles, but is currently known as… ‘Bisous, Tilly’.

I’ve been writing this novel for so long now, I know its main character, the eponymous Tilly, better than I know myself.

I know, I know, that sounds totally trite and cliché as all hell. But it’s true. I barely know which way is up in my own life at the moment, but Tilly? I know her inside and out, every inch.

You’ll have heard me talk about this book under its various titles throughout the years. It’s spent most of its time as ‘Etouffé’, but I thought ‘Bisous, Tilly’ might be a bit more appropriate. It’s the journal of a sixteen-year-old French girl as she’s uprooted from her cosmopolitan life in central Paris, and moved into her new stepmother’s house in the depths of the English countryside. Tilly has to deal with the major culture shock of suddenly being surrounded by horses, dogs, and wholesome blonde step-siblings, while navigating a posh new sixth form and the uncovering of some unpleasant family secrets.

I started writing in a fit of temper while I was an aupair in France – the house was attached to a riding school in the middle of the countryside, and the adorable blonde children I was supposed to be taking care of were tiny hellions, determined to get in the workshed and find a saw or a drill to play with. To a lazy teenager fresh off her first year of uni, aching for adventure, the idyllic countryside was a stifling trap that smelled like manure.

Over the years, the story evolved from just a direct self-insert rant, albeit one that had swapped countries and situations, into an actual plot. I kept thinking to myself, ‘what if?’. More and more situations kept being added onto Tilly’s life, and more and more characters. I did bits and pieces on and off, then did a radical rewrite for the 2014 Camp NaNoWriMo that got it to nearly 100,000 words.

Since then, I’ve been adding and adding to it, and now (after some brutal edits and a concerted effort alongside another unfinished novel for the November NaNoWriMo 2014) it’s hovering around the 150,000 word mark and I can finally see the end. My target for this Camp?

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