Sunday, 1 May 2016

Starting Sparks: May // I'm running a giveaway!

Happy May! I find it almost unbelievable that summer is round the corner. New Year only just happened, right? Maybe I feel this way because we've had frosts every night this week and literal proper white-fields white-mountains honest-to-goodness snow. And yet, the week before, it was lovely, eat-your-lunch-outside, one-of-my-friends-actually-got-sunburnt warm weather. The Northern Hemisphere, man. You can't trust it.

When the world was young I used to do monthly roundup posts, but somehow they ended up going the way of all flesh ... however, this month I thought I'd have a crack at one, to combine with the usual Starting Sparks post.

Before I do, a reminder: I'm running a giveaway and a survey for my fourth blogoversary! Click here to enter.

In Books
Favourite? The three five-star ones, probably with We Were Liars taking the crown. I loved that book a lot. I'm going to post about it next week. 

“What what what about The Raven King?" The truth is, I don't know. I think I'll have to post about it too, because I am so conflicted, actually. You see I gave it five stars, but honestly I don't know if that's my final verdict, or if I just read it so fast and excitedly that I tricked myself into thinking I loved it? Because I was so excited about it? I did love it! I loved it so much! But I also have a lot of questions and I just-- ugh. My brain is kind of short circuiting. I need to talk to someone who's read it. It was kind of perfect, I think?!?! But I'm quite confused.

Shout-outs also to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Heir of Fire, which I loved.

In Writing

At the very beginning of April I finished the third draft of my novel, so I'm now on a break before I start Draft Four. Being away from it has honestly been torturous. It's like having a phantom limb. I've really been struggling to write other things, actually. When I write a short story all I can think is, “I don't care about these characters. I don't know them at all. I don't want to create a new world, either, because worldbuilding takes time and if I'm not writing a book about it, why bother?" Obviously the solution to the character issue is to get to know the characters, but again, if I'm never going to write them, what's the point? I get that writing short stories etc is good practice and something I should do, but the truth is I'm so invested in TCATT that I struggle to care about anything else. I care deeply about A Room Alone (my other novel project), but that's it.

I have made some good A Room Alone progress this month, and also a lot of progress plotting Stay in the City (the working title for TCATT #2). I really didn't plot TCATT at all, so this is a novel (hahaha) and enjoyable experience.

In Life

My sister-in-law is pregnant so I will be auntie x2 in November!

I had my last proper day of school on Friday, and exams start on Thursday. For those of you interested in Emily's Future: the Continuing Saga, I am definitely taking a gap year. I think we have all known this for a while but it is Properly Official now. I am currently researching projects abroad and will probably be applying for something this week.

RE finishing school. Part of me:

And yet:

The world is scary!
Part of me is so excited about planning my gap year, but another part of me wants to spend the rest of my life reading and writing books, going swimming, and doing fun things with my hair. 

And going to uni in Scotland would be (fairly) easy, a lot easier at least than jetting off alone to a country I've never visited, and ... yeah. 

Obviously I know that it's gonna be amazing and everyone gets nervous about these things, blah blah blah, and I am actually very very excited. After all:

Yes, this. :: Harry Potter movie quote:
I have been repeating this to myself a lot recently. Because it would be easy just to accept one of my uni places, but the right thing to do is to take a gap year, do something amazing, work, and  reapply to my top choice, which didn't accept me last year. I know I might not get in again, but if I don't, at least I'll have given it my best shot, and had a brilliant gap year experience to boot.
Leaving school is pretty sad in a way, though, because there are so many people I really like and yet, after exams, our official last day, Prizegiving and the Leavers' Ball, I am never going to see again. It's pretty crazy that I've spent ten years with these people, but I'm only going to stay in touch without about seven of them. I sort of hate it. But again, that's everyone's experience.

I also just voted for the first time! (In the Scottish Parliament Election.) I've just sealed my postal vote envelope. A lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth (and arguments with various parents/friends) took place before that vote.

Voting + gap year + end of school has partly led me to this:

But, still, I'm mostly this:

And that's my life in April, thank you for reading.

Starting Sparks

Finally, we reach the point of this post! Starting Sparks is a writing link-up hosted by me and Ashley. For more info, go to the Starting Sparks page.
May prompt.
Writer or not, experience or none, characters you already have or characters you create for this prompt, we'd love you to link up!


How was your April? Do you have any exciting May plans? What was your best book in April? HAVE YOU READ THE RAVEN KING YET?!?! Ooh and also, can you tell me about a time you chose between what was easy and what was right?


  1. My April was meh, but I had a fantastic reading month! I'm going to California in May which is super exciting and ahhhh. I read Carry On by Rainbow Rowell in April and it is my entire life like all. the feels. THE RAVEN KING YES. I mean, I love the characters but the plot for this one was shaky, it was a bit anti-climactic and I didn't really feel too much. A lot of things were left unanswered for me, therefore I was not 100% pleased with it.

    You are such a productive writer I applaud you and I currently aspire to be you. Also congrats to your sister-in-law, a child is a wonderful thing! And congrats to you on becoming an aunt ;)


    1. I love good reading months! California sounds v nice, I've never been but I would like too; I hope you have a great trip!

      I love TRC characters sooo much but yes I totally agree with the things you said! Buuut I did read a thing Stiefvater wrote the day before it came out, and turns out those feelings you just described are exactly what she intended! You should read this, it's very interesting:

      Thank you! This month hasn't been great because of enforced TCATT withdrawal but I'm starting redrafting mid-May and I'm so excited! But thank you Noor you are so kind. And I'm so excited about the baby! :D

  2. April has been a busy month - both jobs have been ramping up towards summer. I've been planning the teen summer reading program at the library and I've been dealing with the general insanity of working at a hardware store in the summer. Although, we haven't had much in the way of spring/ summer weather yet. A couple days ago I took a trip two hours south to the state border for a work meeting and the weather was so nice - 78 and sunny (but it did rain later in the afternoon) - only to find that it was 55 and rainy (all day) at home, but I guess that's Ohio for you.

    Congrats on finishing school (aside from exams - good luck)!

    The best book I read this April is Tricked by Kevin Hearne - it's the fourth book in the always awesome Iron Druid Chronicles. The cutest book I stumbled upon this month was definitely Four Little Kittens.

    1. Ooh, teen summer reading programme! What have you put on it? And I so feel that about the weather -___- I hope May is a bit less crazy in terms of your jobs!

      Thank you! I'm on a study break right now ...

      Oh yes, you've mentioned the IDC before. I need to look out for them! I just look at the kittens post and that is adorable :3

    2. Well, the theme for the reading program is "Get in the Game - Read!" So, the activities are games based - Just Dance competition, Life sized Jenga, etc., etc. Now, we just need the kids to sign up! :)

    3. Life sized Jenga?! SIGN ME UP!

    4. Yeah, we're hoping for that kind of reaction! :)

    5. Tell me how it goes! :)

  3. Great post! I love hearing life updates. Congrats on being an Aunt again!

    Finishing highschool is such a strange and exciting feeling. It's nice because you're on your way to being a real adult, but it's scary because you're on your way to being a real adult. Good luck with figuring out your gap year. Even though I just worked on my gap year, it was the best school decision I've ever made.

    It's interesting what you said about writing short stories. Personally, I find it more freeing to write a short story because writing a whole novel is so overwhelming. If a short story doesn't work out, it's only a few pages of work, but if a novel doesn't work out, it's hundreds of pages of work, which scares me a bit.

    1. Thank you! :D

      That is so how I feel, both nice and scary >.< But that's so encouraging to hear! I think I have this idea that almost no one does gap years but that's so untrue, I've met far more people than I thought who've done one and everything everyone's said has been so positive!

      You're right, and I know I SHOULD view them as freeing from the pressures/constraints of a novel, but I guess I'm just too invested in TCATT! Ugh. I need to write more shorts, though.

  4. Wow, such exciting things! Congrats on being free of school, the gap year, and the aunt-ness. :) That's so exciting!

    I didn't take a gap year and actually just finished my freshman year of college, but I can get what you mean about the adulting fears... They're overwhelming, but taking it one day at a time helps. :) Good luck with your gap year and whatever school path you choose after that!

    1. Thank you, Heather! :D

      And thanks so much for the advice. One day at a time is a good way of doing it, I think :)

  5. Congratulations to your sister-in-law! And you -you get to be the adoring auntie who completely spoils the little munchkin! That job is the best.

    That's a lovely book list. Mine was sadly meager this April, but I did enjoy That Hideous Strength.

    1. Absolutely the best! I have one nephew who is 1 and a half and it is really the best job in the world <333

      Ah, I've been meaning to read the sci fi trilogy! I've heard it's very very good.

  6. We Were Liars is just the best. *looks nervously at TRK*

    1. I LOVED IT SO MUCH. And TRK is ... well. You just need to read it OK?

  7. WOW! It sounds like you had an amazing month! Congratulations on becoming an aunt and finishing high school! And I completely agree with you about We Were Liars - such an amazing and shocking book. I'm glad you liked it as much as I did. :) Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous recap! ♥

    1. Thank you! I loved We Were Liars so much, I can't stop thinking about it! I'm desperate to reread, even though it's only been a couple of weeks XD

      Thank you for stopping by, Zoe! <3

  8. I still haven`t read the Raven King, can`t wait to get my hands on it. Adulting is hard, but it can be fun too!

  9. I hear you on The Raven King - I'm still processing it over a week later. But I did love it too! Congrats on your new adulting life! It's really not as scary as you might think from your end. You'll figure life out as it goes on :)

    1. One of my friends irl has just started it, so I'm finally going to be able to talk face to face to someone about it! I CAN'T WAIT! And thank you :)

  10. Hello! Wow, the weather sounds crazy, but it's exactly the same in Australia. We're heading into Winter and it's absolutely freezing in the morning and night, but around lunch it's tanning weather. What?!

    Happy 4 year blogoversary! I'm heading into the 4 year realm myself in August, but there's so much still to learn!! And BIG congratulations on being an Auntie, that it so exciting!

    Joy @ Thoughts By J

    1. Hello! That does sound very strange. Weather is crazy! It's May 7th, ie should be ALMOST SUMMER here, but it's so cold ... !

      Thank you :) There is always more to learn but I guess that's the same as most parts of life! And thank you, I am very excited :D

  11. What a lovely post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it ten days ago when you first posted it, and again now that I'm skimming it for the purpose of forming a coherent comment. XD Congrats on (nearly) finishing high school and becoming an aunt!

    Crazy weather. It's been rainy and cool recently around here, but we've had some beautiful afternoons too.

    *pets TRK cover* I need to read book 2 sooooon...

    LDKAJFSAKJ ALL THE WRITERLY GOODNESS. Congrats on finishing draft 3! And oh, do I ever sympathize with your single-mindedness. It seems that when you pour so much of yourself into one book (or series) over such a long period of time, it's hard to wrench your gaze away long enough to care about other things. And here I thought I might be the only one... xD But the little side projects I've done have actually been super fun and refreshing, which is good--otherwise I would've burnt out a long time ago and probably given up on Journeys of the Chosen. I hope working on draft 4 goes well for you!!

    Those two Tangled gifs perfectly sum up high school graduation. And the whole transition into adulthood too. *nods* It's scary, but looking at it as an adventure was one thing that really helped me tackle it head on. (Well, yes, I ran away and hid numerous times too, but you know.) Keep us posted on your gap year plans!

    (On a different note, that's interesting that you vote via the mail, rather than ballots in person.)

    That is an excellent question about deciding between what's easy and what's right. Hmm. Well, when I was 15, I went on a youth retreat to Minneapolis. While there, one of the ministry opportunities was walking around the Mall of America and asking people if you could pray for them (SCARY). I was very shy and not at all comfortable with talking to strangers, especially about such a subject, and when I did finally attempt a conversation, it flopped entirely. My youth leader later helped me process that 'failure' and see it as a step in the right direction, etc. Three years later, as an eighteen yr. old on the same retreat, I could have chosen different ministry ops, but I picked Prayer Quest again, even though the idea of it was still outside my comfort zone. And doing it the second time was a great growing experience! (Didn't mean for that anecdote to get so long. Whoops.)

    Anyway, I LINKED UP WITH STARTING SPARKS! YAY! :D Have a wonderful May, Emily!

    1. Thank you, that's so nice! And thanks v much :D :D :D

      We've had THE NICEST weather this week, I've almost literally been outside for the past three days.


      Thank you! I CAN'T WAIT TILL SATURDAY IT'S LITERALLY THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW! I have done a nice side project this past week, though, my SS story, which I thoroughly love :D <333

      I know! And I will be doing some hiding. With books. And tea. *ahem* I will keep you updated :)

      (My parents signed me up for postal unbeknownst to me and if you're signed for postal you can't do ballot. I would like to do ballot but we live in the middle of nowhere so it's not very convenient. Still, I would like to do it. But I had no choice.)

      Thank you for sharing! That does sound scary, but it's great you went back to it three years later :) <3

      YAYYYYY! YOU'RE A GREAT PERSON, THANK YOU! You toooooo! :D :D :D <3333

  12. Huzzah on all writing fronts! Excitement all around! You make me really want to read it. And congrats on being an auntie again!

    Okay, those Tangled gifs though. So accurate. And it's really hard to dive into something challenging and better when something easy and not exactly wrong is, well, easier. Have you ever seen You've Got Mail? It's super cute and based on The Shop Around the Corner. And there's this quote "Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life well, valuable, but small and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it? Or because I haven't been brave?" There's another one I rather like, "You're marching into the unknown armed with nothing. Have sandwich."

    Anyhow, I think you'd really like the movie if you haven't seen it.

    1. ASHLEY I only just found this comment! Oops! Many apologies. Ahem. Anyway. Thank you! I feel like you spend a lot of time telling me how excited you are to read TCATT, which honestly FILLS MY SOUL WITH UNSPEAKABLE JOY. <3333

      I have not, but I think you mentioned it the other day in the context of wanting to go to New York? But yes. That's exactly what I meant! (I just got off Skype from an interview for potential gap year!!!) I will look out for the film (I enjoyed the sandwich line). Thanks for the rec :)

    2. Whoop! Whoop! I hope your interview went well!

      And yes, You've Got Mail is definitely adorable and will always make me want to go to NYC. :)

    3. Thank you! I think it was OK. I hope. Ha. Um. !!

      I hope I'll see it in the not too distant future :)


Thanks for commenting! :)