Monday, 28 July 2014

Miss Cole's Tea Time - Assam

In a previous post, I discussed the light, mellow and absolutely wonderful flavour of Ceylon tea.  It goes into a lot of blends, as does this week's tea, Assam.  This is a much stronger tea, which is why you find it in a lot of breakfast blends.

I really enjoy the strong taste of Assam. Some describe it as "earthy", which might suggest it tastes like mud. Nope, not at all.  I like to think of it as a powerful taste that stays in the mouth, covering your tongue.

If I'm taking Assam to work, I'll have Twinings tea bags. If I'm drinking it loose leaf, I'll have it from Fortnum and Mason.  When I want to treat myself to a delicious Assam with just a hint of something more, I'll go for Tin Roof Teas' Assam Harmutty. It's definitely one of my more expensive teas, but it's well worth the price.

This is a nice tea to use as a writing reward. Hit 1000k for the day? Have a cup. Finished scheduling your week's posts? Have a cup. Worked out a detailed plan for your next WiP? Have a cup.

Going over your rejection list? HAVE. A. CUP

(If you like the cup and milk jug, you can find them here. And if you happen to be in Brighton, I bought mine from a delightful shop called Sixty Seven on Dyke Road)

Every now and then, you have to treat yourself to a more expensive tea, and this one is well worth the cost.

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Writing Lifestyle: Events, Classes And All That Jazz

After going to YALC a couple of weeks ago, I'm all about going to writing/book events.  There are loads to look for - Google it! Some aren't terribly expensive.  Some break the bank.  All are a great way to engage with other people in your creative world. And don't forget the AMAZING WriteOnCon, which you can attend for free from your laptop! I'll be taking Colony there for the first time this year.

Writing is a lonely craft, but it doesn't have to be.  You and I are both tiny parts of a much bigger universe. And it doesn't only exist on the internet. You may be able to find writing groups in your local area.

Materials from my old writing group

The joy of joining a group is being surrounded by your fellow writers and having people you can bounce ideas off.  They can also be a great way to have your work critiqued.  I took an early version of Resistance to my old writing group and, thanks to the input of the other writers, made massive changes to the story that helped me move forward.

I'm attending New Writing South's Stop F-ing About And Write class in August and I'm super excited! In fact, all my fellow UK writers should check out the New Writing network, as there are groups all over the country.

SCBWI is another amazing group you can join to surround yourself with other writers.  They have chapters all over the planet.

You can go on writing retreats... One of these days I will go on an Arvon course!

And, of course, we have our wonderful blogging world! Hi, everyone! :D


Writing may seem lonely, but you're not really alone. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

How I Prep My Blog

When I decided to get myself into a better blogging schedule, I knew I was going to have to exercise some serious discipline; not to make sure I stuck to it, but to ensure I had the time to get it all done.

I started out with this notebook:

In it, I have a page per subject and then I made lists.  Tea lists, ideas for Thursday posts, and lists for my Writer's Lifestyle.  It's also a handy place to write posts while I'm out and about.

Next, I grabbed the planner I use for work and planned what I'd post when:

Blanked out bits relate to the day job :)

Then I started the job of actually typing these posts... And rapidly realised writing thirty-six posts in one go was not gonna happen.  So instead, I use my weekends to hammer out the upcoming week's posts.  I'll also take any necessary photos, find the music I need to share or gifs that sum up my points neatly.  I'll make sure they're all good to go, then I schedule the week's posts:

As I'm up quite early for work at the moment, I schedule them for 06:30 BST, tweet about them shortly after, and then make use of the wonderful, wonderful Tweetdeck to schedule a second tweet later in the day, usually later at night to take different timezones into account.

Not that I have anything scheduled right now...

While I'm on the subject of Tweetdeck, if you ever find yourself attempting to track a hashtag, like #PitMad, #SFFPit or #ukyachat, Tweetdeck is the perfect tool. You can have a column dedicated to the hashtag and it is so much easier to follow.

And there is my blog prep! How do you go about setting yours up? 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is the fantastic bloghop created by Jaime and Erin. Stop by their blogs and join in!

What I'm Reading

Finished Persuader and it's definitely one of my favourite Jack Reacher books. I really like it when they're told from his perspective.

Next, I read one of my YALC purchases, The Memory Keepers and this is another dystopia I've got to recommend. It had an interesting concept regarding recording and rewatching memories, and I loved the London setting.  It's not actually out yet, but you should definitely get your hands on it if you get the chance.

Then I read Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.  It took a couple of chapters to get into, but I definitely enjoyed it, more than Sharp Objects.  Probably not quite as much as Gone Girl, though.

Alas, I DNF'd The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch. It's YA Fantasy I picked up at YALC, but I couldn't get into it. I feel so bad, because Amy was so awesome on the panel, but there was too much backstory in this for my personal preference. I like stuff to move forward from the start.

Due to the DNF, I'm now re-reading a favourite. DNFs always make me hesitant to pick up something new straight away, so I'm dipping into the Alex Rider series with my favourite book, Point Blanc. 

What I'm Writing

Blog posts, and that's about it. That desire to rewrite Resistance isn't going anywhere, and I keep mulling over various options. I did put pen to paper yesterday and scribble the start of it, whoops!
So much for taking the summer off. When I say rewrite, I mean surgically removing the characters, putting them to one side and then demolishing just about everything else...

What Else I'm Up To

...Work ^^; But I have two days off next week, and a spa day booked with friends, so that's keeping me going ;)

What Inspires Me

I've been working so much lately, my poor violin has been rather neglected. So sorry, Hans! But I'm still listening to string music, and I found some fiddle music I absolutely love playing, courtesy of the Bioshock Infinite soundtrack. It's so upbeat and jolly! A great midweek motivator ;)

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Miss Cole's Tea Time - Kent and Sussex Pluckley Tea

Today I'm sharing a fantastic and extremely budget friendly tea. Kent and Sussex's Pluckley Tea isn't only amazing value for money, it's also delicious!

As great as it is to treat myself to the more expensive teas I've covered in these reviews, every now and then I have to rein myself in. It's not always easy finding budget-friendly tea that also tastes nice, but Pluckley is wonderful.  It's a nice, soothing cup to have as you take a seat, pick up a notebook and get to work.  I'm not working on anything in particular right now, so it's nice to sit at my desk, listen to some music and just see where my imagination goes.  This tea is a perfect accompaniment to the brainstorming!

I brew for three minutes, add milk, take it to my desk and sip while I daydream.  Aaaah, lovely!

What's your favourite budget-friendly tea?

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Writing Lifestyle: Cole's Writer's Lookbook Summer 2014

Oh yes, we writers sure are a stylish bunch.

We've got t-shirts, hoodies, pyjama bottoms and, best of all, lots of sweatpants.  I mean, why waste time getting dressed up when you have the perfect excuse to spend a day in your pyjamas or most comfortable clothes?

I mean, we've got the "just got out of bed and need to write" look...

There's the "bought these sweatpants just so I could sit around and write in them" look...

Don't forget hoodies. These are essential! Sometimes you need to stay warm... even in summer! Plus everyone knows wearing a hood produces even more words!


Ah, but maybe you have got to go out... so how about the "just showered, gotta go to work, but there's still time to write!" look?

And, best of all, the "just showered, not going anywhere... FRESH PYJAMAS!!!!" look :D

What's your favourite writer fashion style? ;)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

No, I Won't Write Every Day!

I used to think writing daily was essential. Like, if I stopped for even a single day, the idea would run away forever.

But then one day life got in the way and I stopped writing daily.

She's... she's lost it...

And guess what? The story didn't run away from me.

When you're really connecting with an idea, the need to write can completely take over and you'll find yourself writing daily no matter what. But not every idea is like that, and you shouldn't feel awful if you aren't writing every day.  Sometimes it's just not possible. Life has a habit of getting in the way and wearing you down, making the thought of sitting down and writing too exhausting to contemplate.

There are times when, despite all your good intentions, writing daily just isn't going to work.  And, like everything in writing, it just might not work for you at all.  Remember, my way, or another writer's way, doesn't and shouldn't be your way.  We're all unique.  Do what works for you.