Sunday, 14 June 2015


I've always wanted this blogging business to be a very regular thing. But in doing so, I burn myself out.

Writing, Blog Posting, Reading, Preparing stuff for teaching, all whilst trying to make sure I eat regularly, remind myself what the sun on my skin feels like, and maybe clean the flat before it starts to smell.

Lots of people have tips for productivity. The "don't break the chain" seems to work quite well for some. I tried that in January, and it burnt me out big time. I was so looking forward to participating in the blogging A-Z in April, but by the time it rolled around I was so exhausted that the very idea of trying to create 26 blog posts made me feel a little nauseous.

The last post I made was in March, and it's now June? What happened to me? Major burnout. The idea of clicking on the little orange blogger tab turned my head. I'd stopped doing it because I wanted to, and it became more of an obligation. And with obligations comes the inevitable guilt when they're not met. And the longer I was away, the worse it felt.

I think burnout is a big factor in why I never finish any WIP's. I've taken a look back at all the stories that I've started in the last few years and they've always been grand sweeping epics that needed at least three books to do it justice. But stamina is something you need to build, and as I approached the first 20,000 of each of these epics, the journey ahead just seemed too long. The light at the end of the tunnel wasn't even a pin prick.

But I've realised something. I'm not ready for that. You can't pick up a musical instrument and begin to play symphonies. No wonder I'm getting fed up. No-one can write a three novel saga straight out of the gate!

Luckily, the muse has descended on me once again and I think what she's given me is a bit more of a manageable mouthful. I'm beginning to feel a bit more relaxed about putting fingers to the keyboard again. Hence, why I'm blogging again.

But I'm going easy. I don't want to get burned again.

Sarah x

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Goodbye guilt, hello YOLO.

I almost can't believe I've put 'YOLO' in my blog title but there we go. (It stands for You Only Live Once in case you missed it!)

As with my last post, this is all about some of the revelations that I've had recently. With that being my relationship with money.

I've come from a family that, despite our situation, managed very well due to careful money management from my parents and them being frugal so that I could have the best chance in life.

As of September I've found myself with an income. I've payed bills before with my time at Uni, but always from savings and student loans, never from my own hard work. After the initial pay out to furnish my new flat, I became very miserly, hoarding my money away and feeling guilty whenever I made an expensive train journey to London to see friends or got a takeaway meal when I knew there was enough to do me in the fridge.

But no more.

A few Fridays, after the kids had run out the door I found myself having a deep conversation with some teaching colleagues about money. One of them is in the same situation as me, a new young teacher with an income for the first time. The other has only been teaching a year but is roughly ten years older than us. He couldn't get over how we were trying to scrimp and save. He said that if we could, we should have as much fun over the next five years as so before we start settling down into mortgages, marriages and children (if the latter two are something that would interest us!).

It took someone else to mention it, but I realized he was right. I shouldn't feel guilty. I have no dependents. I am still young.  My dad plunged into his first and only job at age 18. It was a highly stressful situation and he had blinkers on. Next thing he knew he was 34, had a wife, me and cancer. Although his treatment cured him, it was experimental and left him permanently disabled. He's 54 now and suffers a lot of regrets about how he spent his younger years. After a lengthy and emotional phone call to him, he implored me to do the same that my colleague had, stop worrying now and live a bit more.

So I'm saying goodbye to guilt and embracing YOLO culture. My first act of YOLO was my new iPhone 6. I love it and don't feel guilty at all!

Sarah x

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Fanfiction and Colouring Books

I had a revelation recently. In fact, I've had many recently and I'm looking forward to sharing them all with you.

The end of February had a big impact on me for some reason. I was feeling very down. I don't want to use the word depressed because I know people, a lot of family members, who actually suffer from depression and I know that I was not. Yet, I still felt very lonely and defeatist about things that were happening in my life. Perhaps it was homesickness finally settling in 8 months down the line. Perhaps I'm coming out of the honeymoon period at work. Whatever the reason, I was feeling a little, for lack of a better word, lost. But after a series of conversations and some serious thinking time, things began to look a little less muddled.

Let's begin with my first revelation about Fanfiction and Colouring books.

A week ago today I bought a 'grown up' colouring book from Waterstones. It's gorgeous.

I bought it so that I would have another option for relaxation. Reading and writing had hit an all-time slump for me and I was getting frustrated that I didn't have anything creative to do. So this seemed the obvious solution. A week later and this is my progress on page 1.

I'm very pleased and I can definitely say that this book is value for money in terms of how long I'm going to have it around!

But as I was colouring in, it occurred to me. Fanfiction writing, and colouring in a pre-inked colouring book are two things that are very similar. 

It's always bothered me how easily I used to write Fanfiction when I was younger, and how challenging I'm finding writing my own stories now. On more than one occasion I've been deeply angry with myself. 

"Come on!" I'd say, "You used to write thousands of words a day whilst keeping a part-time job, a relationship with a boyfriend and friends, plus school work all up to scratch. What's the matter?"

I have, however, come to the conclusion that this was because with the Fanfiction, half the work was already done for me, much like a colouring book. There were characters that were already fleshed out, on paper or on screen, as well as a built in audience of people who wanted to read these things and were constantly pestering me for updates. 

But with my own ideas, I've got to start from literally nothing. I have to make you love or hate my characters. I have to craft the world around the reader and I have to make the story worth being read. Plus, there's no sense of obligation keeping me going. And that's not easy. Not at all.

So I've become a little less angry with myself now. And I have to keep reminding myself that although it's my dream to write and get a story published, what's written probably isn't going to be of much worth if I've beaten the words out of myself in a constant state of anger and frustration.

I'm also in search of some Beta readers / critique partner as that is another factor I think was key to my productiveness whilst fanfiction writing. So if you know anyone looking!

How do you get the most out of your writing, despite everything else going on in your life?

Sarah x

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

IWSG - Accomplished

Mary Shelley, Samantha Shannon, Cecelia Ahern, Alice Oseman, Lindsay Cummings, Carrie Hope Fletcher.

What do these ladies have in common with each other? They're all published authors, and at date of publication were all under the age of 25.

I'm 23 in April and my age has always been a bugbear of mine. I look around at other people the same age; writers, actors, musicians, and list off their accomplishments. In turn, I end up feeling feel very lazy and unspecial because of what they have done in the same time that they've been around on earth. But instead of feeling empowered to put a rocket up my butt and hurry up to make my own mark, I just end of moping around feeling disinterested and disillusioned.

I've never had an automatically 'glass half full' mindset. Usually I just go with it. Let the darkness hover over me like a rain cloud and wait for it to disperse naturally. But no longer. So I haven't ever finished a draft in my life. So what?

I need to think more about what I have done, and not what I haven't. So here goes.

1. I've written and completed 9 Fanfictions from age 14-20. A total of 336,822 words.  
2. I learned how to drive, and in my 6 years of driving have never had an accident. 
3. I've been involved with lots of amateur dramatics, performing in plays and pantomimes.  
4. I got myself a babysitting/childminding job where I was in charge of 2 boys under 5 for two years 3 times a week (evenings and Saturdays) while studying for my GCSE's and AS exams. 
5. After finishing the babysitting job I worked in retail for a year while studying for my A  levels.  
6. I've gotten Honors Bachelors degree in Biomedical Science 
7. I've completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, enabling me to teach Science/Biology to 11-18 year olds.  
8. I've moved to England in pursuit of a teaching job and found myself with a lovely school in a lovely area of England 
9. I manage to pay rent, pay bills, cook and clean and generally look after myself without incident or getting into money troubles. 

I didn't quite make it to 10 big things, but I'm pretty happy with those 9. Perhaps that 10 will be my first completed draft.

What have you accomplished recently?

Sarah x

Sunday, 1 March 2015

What I read in February

February has been a very quiet month for my blog. I've been very much lacking in inspiration for anything written. And I had a very large reading slump as well. However, here's what I manage to read in February.

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This book was deliciously cheesy. Like a 4 cheese pizza. The descriptions are wonderful and crisp and lovingly crafted. The plot is neither here nor there. A series of melodramatic events to throw the characters into as much peril as possible. I don't care for the story in terms of "oh, that was a dramatic twist" because it was all quite predictable once the story hit it's stride. I did find myself getting slightly annoyed at the increasing frequency of which the male protagonist got himself captured by the enemy. But it's a wonderful escape and even more so as I listened to it on audiobook. The narrator read it very well.

2. Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Having absolutely loved the film and being very excited for my first Neil Gaiman read, I was a little disappointed. Not that the book isn't good, but it's less of a nicely wrapped up package at the end of the story like the movie, and more bitter sweet. I suppose that's a more realistic portrayal, that not every story finishes with a perfect wrapped up bow. It was still a very good and quick read. Neil has an interesting way of telling stories and I am intrigued to read something else of his. I was given 'The ocean at the end of the lane' as a Christmas present so I hope to get stuck into that sometime, to see how one of his books reads without prior knowledge.

3. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

I'm not a huge fan of contemporary novels because I always think the dramas of 'real' life don't really match up to those portrayed in fantasy/dystopian/historical novels. However, as with Anna and the french kiss, I really enjoyed this book. The main character though, did grate on my nerves slightly. She has a personality trait that I feel has been done time and time again, that of being extremely self-conscious. However, they are common teenage emotions and I suppose I can't fault Stephanie for that. Again, a very enjoyable read.

Still reading: Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2), The Wicked and The Divine, Blood Red Snow White.

What did you read this month?

Sarah x

Sunday, 22 February 2015



Pronunciation: /ˈapəθi/

[Noun] 1. Lack of feeling, passion or interest.
             2. Indifference.

The irony of this post is that I'm struggling to even to work up the enthusiasm to even write this post.

I'll let you in on a secret. I'm struggling with a real bad bout of creative apathy. Even reading is a struggle for me at the moment. The most frustrating thing of all is that I can't seem to put my finger on why I feel this way. Did I burn myself out? Am I just not trying hard enough? I've gone through all the possible reasons and can't pin it down.

I was doing so well in January, keeping to my "don't break the chain" rigorously. However, as we entered February I fell away hard. I've since taken the poster down because its a constant reminder of how badly I failed.

My creative well seems to have run completely dry and even though we're not too far away from Spring, there seems to be no signs of approaching showers to replenish my supply.

What do you do when you hit a creativity drought. Any and all suggestions are welcome to break this cursed state!

Sarah x

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

IWSG - Small Victories

All my free time comes in lump sums. That's the curse of being a teacher. A first year teacher at least who has to make up all her lessons from scratch. The only real  bulk of free time that I have comes in the holidays which, I grant you, do make up for the stress of term time. But this means that I've never really finished anything in my life, and very few of the stories in my head can be finished outside of 100k.

As a result of this, my fiction makes slow progress. I tend to write only on average 30 minutes each day. It's not ideal. I would love to immerse myself completely in my world but it's simply not do-able. But the fact remains; I've never really finished anything.

So to make up for this, I decided to stretch my wings a little with a lesson and I wrote a sketch. I'm no stranger to script writing, but only for the Nativities at my Church where I was put in charge of the yearly performance of our young people. Even then I can't take all the credit. Normally I found a script or an idea online and adapted it for our small number of children. But last week, I took it upon myself to write an entire script from scratch. The class in question are not my favourite by any means. They're a mixed bag of personalities with one thing in common, there are very few in the class for whom science is interesting. And those that are interested struggle with it. But I'd been observed with them by another member of staff and although my lesson was satisfactory, we had a long chat and he inspired me to try harder with them, rather than plunging through the content with my head down ignoring all the troublemaking.

So I wrote them a script, where the specialised cells of the body have a huge argument over who is the most important, subtlety slipping in the facts about each cell that they have to know.  It took me, perhaps a little under an hour and a half. It was short, but I felt some kind of accomplishment having completed something of my own creation

And they loved it. Everyone who wanted to got involved and those who didn't, for the first time, respectfully sat back and watched the ones reading out their parts. They put in expression and no-one talked over anyone else, a first for them.

I'm under no delusions. They're not cured, and this week they'll probably be back to their naughty selves. But for the first time since September I was proud of them. And of myself. I completed something literary of my own design. It was small but it's a step in the right direction.

What are the small victories that keep you going? Finishing a chapter? Finishing a scene?

Sarah x

Sunday, 1 February 2015

What I read in January

I never do read very many books throughout a month because lesson preparation takes up a lot of my free time. However, here's what I did read in January.

1. Code Name Verity

I started this book sometime in October and couldn't for the life of me get into it. I read small portions of it, then finally relented and started another book. I went back to it New Years Eve to try and reach my Goodreads Challenge goal. That was when something clicked and I couldn't put it down.

A very good book I just wish that I'd clicked with the book earlier to allow myself to enjoy it in one lump rather than spread out thinly over months.

There are some definite surprises in this book that I didn't see coming and it has a wonderful reveal that pieces everything together, including some things that only the most perceptive will have picked up on earlier in the book.

2. Throne Of Glass

This series has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while now. It's been floating around the blogosphere for what feels like forever but I only just got around to picking it up.

I cannot remember the last time a book hooked me quite so well. I was really into it from the very beginning and read it in a few days, which for term time, and a book of 400+ pages, of relatively small print, was really impressive for me.

The characters are all very rounded and interesting and there are some real twists and turns. The fantasy element of it is a slow burn, which I'm all for!

My one concern was the threat of a love triangle that leered it's ugly face over the second half of this book. I know why triangles exist but I just have yet to see one done particularly well. I will be delving into the next book in this series quite soon to see what becomes of this intriguing world and it's inhabitants.

Still reading: Outlander (Audiobook), Lord of the Flies, The Mysterious Affair at Styles

What did you read this month?


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