Thursday, 29 January 2015

Prompt #2 - Money Money Money

Another prompt because I'm running out of ideas for blogs already. How is this possible? It's only January!

This time I picked out from my prompt jar an opening sentence. It was "What do you mean you lost the lottery ticket?"

"What do you mean you lost the lottery ticket?"

Katie huddled in the darkness at the top of the stairs, watching the light spill out from the kitchen. Mom and Dad were in there, arguing again. 

"I didn't lose it," Dad replied with a sigh. "I tacked it to the fridge and now it's gone."

Katie wasn't sure what a lottery was, but she knew it had something to do with money and numbers. It was a stable feature of their Saturday nights, all huddled around the television with anticipation. She didn't really like the lottery on TV. Once the last number came up the feeling in the room always changed. Dad would become sullen and a dark shadow would fall over his face, like the light was afraid to touch him anymore. Mom would just look sad. 

"I'm sorry Matt, that's the definition of lost to me. Could it have slipped underneath?"

"Sure, Alice, why didn't I think of that?" Dad replied harshly, "Of course I checked underneath, I'm not quite the moron you seem to think I am."

Money was supposed to be a good thing. Money meant she could get sweets from the shop, or a new car to add to the collection on her shelf. But any mention of it always seemed to make Mom and Dad cross. 

"Don't take it out on me. It can't have just vanished. As usual you're just not looking hard enough."

"By all means, do it yourself. You always do. Nothing I do is ever good enough anyway."

"You're overreacting."

But this was worse than any other Saturday that Mom and Dad shouted at each other. Boots the cat crossed the landing towards Katie, sat down, and meowed. Katie shushed him and scratched behind his ears. Loud scrapes issued from the kitchen, and Katie watched the shadows move as furniture was moved carelessly out of place.

"See? I'm not actually blind, Alice."

"Well it didn't hurt to check."

More scraping.

"Careful, you'll damage the tiles."

"I know what I'm doing."

Katie looked down at the piece of paper in her hand with the printed numbers. She had been sure that if she took it away then Mom and Dad would have nothing to be cross about. In reality, she'd just made things worse. Her heart began to beat hard against her chest. Should she give it back, or just keep pretending that it was lost?

Boots ran past her down the stairs and into the light of the kitchen. That's when Dad said one of the forbidden words that Jamie had once told her in school. 

"Matt, keep your voice down, the kids might still be awake."

Katie swallowed and got to her feet. Slowly, she descended the stairs. The wood was cold on her bare feet as she crossed the hall and into the kitchen. The bright light hurt her eyes as she turned to look up at her parents. Mom glared at Dad, who looked a bit sheepish after having used the bad word.

"What is it, darling?" Mom crouched down and put her hand on Katie's arm. Katie didn't reply, instead she proffered the slip of paper out towards Dad. The older man's eyes went wide as he took it from her.

"I'm sorry." Katie said as tears threatened. 

Dad looked down at the paper, then at his daughter. "Did you take this?" He wasn't angry like she'd been expecting. She nodded. "Why?"

"It always makes you sad. The lottery. I thought if I took it away you wouldn't be sad anymore."

Mom and Dad exchanged a look of guilt. Mom picked up Katie in her arms. 

"Don't you worry about Mommy and Daddy being sad. We'll be okay."

She turned to Dad and spoke directly. "Matt, that's the last lottery ticket we're ever buying."

Dad nodded, studied the numbers, and then scrunched the paper up. "Nothing." He tossed it into the trash can. He closed the space between them and kissed both girls on the forehead in turn. "I'm sorry."

It was unclear if he was speaking to one, or both of the other people in the room. The cat, oblivious to everything, meowed at the cupboard door for his supper. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

January Haul

It was to be expected that I would partake of the January sales. Especially when it come to books.

For those of you in the UK there is a wonderful book shop online called the Book People. They never have a huge range of titles, but the saving are always incredible and there is free postage on any order over £25.

So I decided to help myself to some of the clearance books and this is what I bought.

Important to note; there was an extra book here, a large textbook that I've brought into my classroom already so couldn't be photographed. 

I am excited to get to all of these at some point throughout the year. The ones that stand out here are Rose Under Fire. It took me a good while to get into Code Name Verity, but when it kicked off the book was amazing and I have really high hopes for Rose. I'm also going to marathon the Chaos Walking trilogy now that I have the final book. I'll probably take one of my holidays to do that one. 

I also bought some really good books on the Kindle that were on offer or that I used vouchers for. I have Amazon Prime, and I really like the feature they offer that if you don't want the next day delivery you can opt for a normal delivery and get £1 of Kindle credit.


Given how much I read in a year, this will keep me going until the summer knowing me. I need to stop buying so many before I read them.

What did you buy in January?

Sarah x

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Bookshelf Update

I moved last year. I don't know if I've talked about it yet or not... 

(Protip, that's sarcasm. You'll see a lot of it here. You can take the girl out of Ireland but you can't take the Ireland out of the girl.)

Although I lived in other houses while at Uni, my main port of call was still my bedroom in my parents house. As far as I can recall this is the most recent picture of my bookshelves before I started packing most of them away into boxes.

That bookshelf is the main reason that I needed two cars to move my stuff from Ireland to England. I don't envy book bloggers, who generally have twice or three times the books that I have, who have to move house. There were some notable books that I left, like the Twilight series. As I've said before, it was probably what got me into reading big time when I was a teenager, but I honestly can't see myself re-reading the series anytime soon, if ever. There are also some pretty large books that I decided to leave at the parents house. But I'm confident they will make their way over at some point.

Having my own place, with multiple rooms has allowed me to make more of a display out of my books. So off to IKEA I went with mother and picked up two of their cheapest bookcases. It worked out quite well that the colour of wood throughout my apartment is the same as the cheapest bookcase (£15) that IKEA had. I later went back for a third when it transpired that I needed extra shelves for the miscellaneous items and work for school.

Here is the result:

My bookcase is the centrepiece of my living room. You can see my TV and printer just out of shot to the right. I really enjoy having a large bookcase and I really enjoy having a large amount of books. Even though I didn't take every book with me, the collection has grown somewhat since leaving Ireland. What can I say? I have a problem with buying books. 

It's always brings me joy every morning when I walk into my living room with my bowl of cereal and my cup of tea to be greeted with this sight. Though, I am anxious that I will soon run out of room... again. I'll have to start giving some books away if that happens, though I find that very difficult as there is a part of me that just likes owning books.

What is your bookshelf arrangement?

Sarah x

Monday, 19 January 2015

Prompt #1 - The Sun

I'm going to start a new series on this blog because, for a blog that's supposed to be about writing, not much actual writing goes on.

I've gotten myself a little tub, and put some slips of paper with prompts on it into said jar. When I can't think of a blog post to write, I'm going to do one of the prompts. This is the first one.

Prompt: Write about the sun as you love it, then as you hate it.

From the moment I wake up I'm bathed in the glorious glow. I lay there for a while, basking like a cat and watching the flecks of dust dancing as they rise and fall through the air. I always wake with the sun. It's not a choice, or a requirement, it just sort of... happens. Not wanting to waste any more of the daylight I dress quickly in shorts and a tank top and grab my iPod from the dock in the kitchen. For the next three hours I walk with no real direction or purpose, I just want to be outdoors. The sun kisses my skin with her delicate touch. I make my way into town and buy a bacon and egg baguette and a bottle of water. I take up my usual perch on the green in front of the Town Hall. Under the dome of almost perfect of blue, disturbed infrequently by streaks of white, I eat my sandwich. I stay there for a while more, listening to music and watching the people go about their business, sharing in the delights of the suns goodness. I lie back and stare up through the summer leaves at the sky. The sun shines through, directly down,  leaving a dappled display of light and shadow over my body. I buy a paper from the vendor and read it cover to cover until the unwelcome chill of a disappearing day washes over me. With a sigh, I return home and watch from the window, bidding the sun farewell as she dips below the horizon.

From the moment I wake I can feel its hateful heat. The brightness stings my eyes as I slowly open them against the glare. Every morning it's the same horror that shines through my window. No matter how hard I try to shield it with blinds and curtains, the monster manages to find each crack and crevice to creep through. I know with dreaded certainty that within the next hour the apartment will be unbearably hot if I don't open the window. But with that comes further unnecessary exposure to the giant fireball in the sky. I choose my spot carefully and thrust my hands through the gap in the curtain, forcing my way through the Venetian slats. My skin burns from the moment that I'm exposed. I make short work of the window latch, push the pane open and retreat into the safety of the shielded room. If I'm thankful for one thing, it is that in a few hours, it will be gone taking with it that vile dome of unnatural blue that seems to follow it wherever it goes. I'm told that it didn't used to be this bad, the sun could actually be something that was enjoyed. But that was before the war, and the bombs, and the burning. We used to be shielded from it by something called the ozone layer. It's gone now. Has been for decades. Everything dies now, sooner rather than later. The only water we have left is underground and it won't last more than a few generations. Everything is so dry, burnt to a crisp by the merciless orb in the sky. Mother Nature is taking her revenge on us for destroying her planet and she's hired the sun to be her hit man. She couldn't have chosen a better champion. We won't outlast this century.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Top 5 TV shows I watched in 2014

Working full time has drastically reduced the amount of free time that I have, so I've had to re-evaluate how much TV that I watch. Mediocre shows that I was just watching because I could have been thrown away in favour of TV that I actually enjoy.

That being said, I've got a list of the top 5 TV shows that I watched in 2014.

1. Game Of Thrones

This one always has a special place in my heart because most of it is filmed in Northern Ireland, and I know people who are in it! But as a show in itself it is an amazing epic feat. The actors are all, for the most part, extremely talented people and the show is portraying George R.R. Martins fantasy world brilliantly. The story may be divulging from the books somewhat, but I'm still excited to see where it's going in the future. The cinematography never fails, and it has some wonderful CGI. 

2. Outlander 

outlander_tv_series_2014-2560x1440The first of three new additions to my watch list is Outlander, based on the book by Diana Gabaldon. It's a wonderful show with powerful acting. The premise and romance are a little convenient at times, but it is none the less a really wonderful show with a very powerful lead female and a lead male that is very easy on the eyes. It also had one of the most natural and organic sex scenes that I've seen portrayed on screen.

3. The 100

I'd avoided this for a while. I knew that it was around and made the mistake of thinking that because it was a 'Teen' show that I would tire of it as I have of others. However, this show, after a few episodes really gets going. It doesn't hold punches and is a very gritty post-apocalyptic portrayal of human nature. It also has a phenomenal and diverse cast of really good actors. 

4. Orange Is The New Black

I don't know how I managed to avoid this show until the middle of 2014 seeing as it was literally everywhere on the internet. I can vividly remember when I started to watch it. It was at about 5am after a night that I hadn't slept at all. Its a wonderful show, full of complex characters. I've never seen so many women share the screen at one time and is absolutely wonderful. Since watching this show I've been paying a little more attention to representation on TV and that in itself is a really positive thing that I've taken away from this show. Everyone should see this show. You literally cannot compare it to anything out there right now, or anything that's come before. 

5. Teen Wolf

This show continues to be one of my favourite things to watch. The plots are so good and the characters even better. It's got such a powerful underlying theme of friendship and looking out for one another. I've said it before that I love the world that Teen Wolf creates where homophobia and stereotypes are just not a thing whatsoever! It also has the addition of Dylan O'Brien who is one of the most talented young actors in Hollywood right now. It also has an amazing soundtrack that has introduced me to a lot of new artists to listen to whilst writing. One of which being the amazing Hozier. 

What were you watching in 2014? What are you excited for in 2015?

Sarah x

Monday, 12 January 2015

Never Say Never

All throughout my secondary education, when the dreaded question of, "so, what are you going to do when you leave school?" popped up I was never 100% confident in my answer. For a while I wanted to be an advertising copywriter, long before Mad Men graced our TV screens. Then I looked into Science careers, and doggedly stuck to wanting to be a Haematologist for a number of years. But the thing I was most confident in, were these two statements:

"I am never going to be a teacher" and "I am never going to leave Ireland"

For those of you who know me, you'll have smiled by now. For those of you who might be new; Hi, I'm Sarah and I'm a Biology teacher living in England.

Life has this funny way of turning everything you think you know about yourself upside down because I was so sure that I would never do either of those things. The second statement even led to my breaking up with a boyfriend (I say 'a' boyfriend like there are multiples. One and only to date. Insert: forever alone meme) who went off to University in Bath, keen to get away from Ireland at the first opportunity.

If nothing else it's taught me something really important and that is, to never say never. If the internet is to be believed (after sorting through a frankly worrying number of references to that Canadian atrocity, Justin Beiber) then Charles Dickens was the first person to actually coin this phrase. And he was right. To completely rule something out of your life, especially when you haven't tried it, closes so many doors. I love teaching, and I love living in England. In fact, after my first week working at my school I cried with happiness on the way home because I finally felt as though something in my life was going right after a rather stressful few years at Uni. Although content, it would have been quite a stretch to say that I was 'happy' while at University. I also have found a lovely set of friends, an old internet friend and some of their extended circle, and have been more social than I can remember in a long time.

But it's important for me to note that I wouldn't go back and change anything. It's taken me a while to abandon those two statements since they were embedded into me so deeply. If I hadn't come around to giving up on them organically I wouldn't be the person I am today.

So my point is that when it comes to reading and writing, never say never.
"I'll never write middle grade" I could write the next big thing in Middle grade and never know it if I didn't give it a shot.
"I'll never read Urban Fantasy" There's so much to learn about writing when you read outside the genres that you're comfortable in.

What about you? Is there something that you said, once upon a time, that you'd never do but have done so since?

Sarah x

Friday, 9 January 2015

My life revolves around notebooks.

One of the most important things that I was told on my first teaching practise was to keep everything that you've got to do in a notebook. The temptation in teaching is to scrawl to-do things onto post-it notes and chuck them into the bin when you've done them. Don't do that.

Why? Because once that post-it is gone it's really easy to forget all the work that you put into getting those things done. If you keep everything in a notebook then you can record how far you've come through your to-do. I've taken that advice very to heart. Almost too much.

I've always liked notebooks. Not so much writing in them but just owning them. However, I've really got into using them for different things. So here is a little window into all my little notebooks and what I use them for.

Blog notebook

I got this a while ago in a sale. It's got a cute pug and a slogan that made me giggle. I write down ideas about blogs that I'm planning on writing. In fact I'm writing this blog in the notebook right now (Blogception...). Hopefully the notebook will help me keep up with posting.

Teaching notebook

Self explanatory really. This is where I keep all the things I need to do for school. I'm not always good as using it as I should but it's definitely been helpful!

WIP Character notebook

This is a recent addition to my notebooks pile. I started it when I was working out dome ideas for my WIP. Usually I just bomb straight into writing. Perhaps now that I've got my character notebook with some extra bits and pieces about all the main characters and the main plot, then I might be able to make it past 15,000 (which is where I usually get really stuck!) I've got pictures of actors that are inspiration for the characters, some family tree stuff, a rough plot and a few other bits and pieces knocking around.

Writing book

I'm currently going through a phase where I can't actually write at the computer. My fingers freeze up and there is nothing translating from my brain to the screen. So I've taken to writing long hand. I have this big beauty to help me with that. Hopefully she'll help mend the broken bridges between my brain and my keyboard.


One of my things on my New Year's To-Do list was to start keeping a journal. For a writer, I find that I've stopped writing quite so much. So I've the idea that if I don't write down anything fictional or blog related that day that I, instead, will turn to my journal and fill in a paragraph about my day.

Empty notebooks

As I said near the start, I just like having notebooks. I have a range of empty ones that I've collected or been given that are just waiting to be filled with ideas!

Do you use many notebooks in your life? What are your favourites?

Sarah x

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

IWSG - "I can't do it."

If any of you are parents, I'm sure you've heard this phrase numerous times, possibly even several times today. "I can't do it."

I was an awful one for this as a child. I can't climb the monkey bars, I can't do my homework, I can't phone my gran to thank her for the present because phone calls absolutely terrify me.

You get the picture.

Now the phrase that haunts me is "I can't finish a draft." The last time I actually finished a piece of writing was 2011 and it was a Fanfiction. So, my track record is woefully lacking in finished works. My limit is about 15-20,000 words, and then things just seem to fall apart. My fingers wont work on the keyboard, the well of plot just seems to run dry and every word feels like I'm wading through treacle. At that point I give up, because if it's that hard to write then it must read like absolute torture.

However, not too long ago I was uttering the phrase "I can't do it," with regard to teaching. Before most classes on my training year I would begin to panic. My heart would hammer and my stomach would perform some intricate origami before the 30 or so kids would pour into the room enquiring as to whether or not we would be setting things on fire today.

But that's now my job. 8-4, Monday to Friday I teach 11-15 year olds Science. And I'm not naturally boastful but I'm kind of alright at it. And I can't remember a time when I laughed so much. It's not an art that I have perfected, I'm not the most inventive or creative of teachers. There are still the kids and the classes that I'd rather not teach but I don't think I can apply the phrase "I can't do it" to teaching anymore.

Perhaps with a more perseverance and the addition of a "Don't break the chain" poster this may be the year that I finish a WIP. It's on my 2015 to-do list, so I hope that it works.

Have you conquered your I can't's?

Sarah x

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Top 5 books I read in 2014

I'm doing these posts a little retroactively but it's still January so meh.

Again, no particular order. No. 1 wasn't my favourite, they're all equal top.

1. The Lies Of Locke Lamora 

Oh my goodness was this book fun. I got the audio book version because I find with Fantasy it's easier to have someone else butcher the place names and character names. The characters that Scott Lynch has created leap out at you and grab you. I vividly remember starting listening to this book while out on a walk in the forest and laughing out loud, then having to check that I didn't just look deranged to any fellow walkers.

The humour is it's main attraction but boy can this guy tell a good story. Heartbreaking at times, you'll know what I mean if you've read it yourself.

2. Saga

2014 became the year that I decided to read more graphic novels. The Saga series had popped up around the blog world and I decided it would be where I started my graphic novel journey. I'm so glad that I did. I can vividly remember burying my nose in this on the way home from a trip into London on the train and having it completely devoured by the time the train pulled into my station.

The world(s) that have been created here are so vivid and amazing, thrown together with a Romeo and Juliet-esq plot that completely doesn't ever go where you think it's going to go. There are also some completely infuriating twists and cliff-hangers thrown in.

3. Where She Went 

I can't vividly remember why I loved this book so much. The characters perhaps, or the emotions that I felt but I do remember reading it in one sitting and clutching onto it for some time after. I cried, I laughed. This and If I Stay are quite an amazing duology and I'm so glad that I picked them both up.

4. Fangirl

There are so many reasons why this book was amazing. First, Fanfiction has been such a big part of my life. It's where I started writing, and I've even gotten life long friends and such a whack of confidence out of it. I would dread to think where I'd be if I'd never written any Fanfiction. Secondly, this book really hits home because I also felt like a fish out of water at College (University here). I barely left my room and was almost afraid to have fun. Why? I've no idea.

The plot points, Cath and her mother, her relationship with Wren and the romance with Levi are also so wonderfully told.

5. Daughter Of Smoke and Bone

This book, although I struggled with names, paints such a vivid picture. The descriptions in this book are glorious and leap off the page. The 'romance' is neither here nor there for me, but it was such a captivating read that I'm going to gloss over it. I will get around to the next part sometime this year.

What were your favourite books of 2014?

Sarah x

Thursday, 1 January 2015

My 2015 To-Do List

I've never much held with the 'Resolutions' because if you're going to change your life, diet, eat healthier, spend more time with friends, then you can up and choose to do that at any time, you don't need the new year to do it!

Having said that, there are some things that I'd like to achieve in the new year. So instead of a 'Resolutions' list, I'm putting up a "To-do" list.

1. Start a jar of positives

I was at a friends house for New Years and everyone gathered around to read out what his mum called her 'Blessings Box', a collection of little slips of paper she'd written whenever she felt blessed. It was a wonderful experience and I've set my mind to doing something similar. I have the unfortunate personality trait of 'glass half empty' so it will be nice to have something to actively take note of the positives!

2. Finish a WIP

I've never finished an original story and I'm hoping upon hope that 2015 is the year that I do it.

3. Get a new camera and get some of my photographs printed out and hung up.

After purchasing a new computer for Christmas, it will be a while before I can afford a new camera, but I used to take a lot of photos and I'd really like to get back into the Photography.
 I have a lot of pictures that I'm quite proud of, and I'd like to get some printed out a decent size and displayed in some manner around my flat.

4. Take a weekend break to somewhere I've never been.

I'm not very well travelled and I should really get one of those voucher thingies and take a weekend break to somewhere, whether it be in the UK or Europe. Perhaps once I've gotten my camera so I can document it!

5. Read 30 books.

I hate to lose. Which is why for the last two years I have adjusted my total books for the Goodreads reading challenge down to whatever number of books I have read so it still registers that I have completed the challenge, when in actual fact I have failed what I originally posted. Not this year though. It's 30 books or bust.

6. Join a club or organisation. 

It probably won't be until the summer or next school term as I've too much to do when school is on as it's still my first year. But next September, when I've more of a handle on things, I reckon I'll have time to join some sort of club!

7. See Carrie Hope Fletcher in Les Mis.

This wonderful ray of sunshine is the Youtuber and West End Star Carrie Hope Fletcher. I've been watching her online videos for years now, and playing Eponine in Les Mis has always been one of her life's ambitions. In June 2013 she was announced as the new Eponine, and in June 2014 she said she'd stay at Les Mis for another year. Now that I live in England it's so much more likely that I'll be able to get to see her! I've never had the pleasure of meeting her, but having watched her for years on Youtube I feel like a proud big sister and I have to see her before she leaves the production.

8. Go to a recording of a show.

Radio or TV I don't mind. The BBC always does free tickets to a lot of their shows and I'd love to give it a go!

9. Go to a book signing.

I've only ever been to one book signing, and it was Kathy Reichs. She came to my University while I was there on a book tour and I got it signed for my Dad as he's a big fan of her Temperance Brennan series (of which the TV show Bones is based on!). It's about time I went to another one! I'll have to keep an eye out for signings in my area!

10. Keep a journal.

I've tried this before and it hasn't worked. Let's hope 2015 is the year!

What have you got planned in 2015? Do you have some resolutions? Let me know!

Sarah x