Camp NaNoWriMo is here!

It’s that time of year again! July 2019 Camp NaNoWriMo has officially begun as of Monday. Once again, I am taking part. Join me — it’s not too late!

Clicky to view my stats:

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2019 logo - a sun with sunglasses on overlooks a mountain range, tent and two fir trees, with a large pencil beneath with '2019 writer' etched onto it

Camp NaNoWriMo, for those who don’t know, is NaNoWriMo‘s less stressful little sibling where you set yourself a custom goal for the month — words, minutes, hours, lines or pages — and work towards it to ‘win’. It’s a lot less restrictive than the more well-known NaNoWriMo (50,000 words only).

This month I’ve set myself a goal of 1,500 minutes which equates to 25 hours. It’s my intention not only to meet this goal, but smash it! So, wish me luck.

My goal for Camp is to complete 10,000 words of my rewrite, a 400 word synopsis of my book, and then polish both up for submission to the Curtis Brown First Novel Prize. Lofty goals indeed — people on Twitter keep banging on about a Mercury Retrograde? — but I know I can do it!

Are you guys participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month? What are y’all’s projects and goals?

S.E. Berrow

Happy Pride Month, everybody!

Today I am sharing with you an absolutely beautiful piece of artwork drawn by one of my Creative Den–Discord friends, Jules (check out more of his artwork here on Twitter and Instagram).

To celebrate Pride 2019, Jules has drawn this stunning ensemble piece featuring some of the Creative Den’s original LGBT+ characters. Among then is my own character, Jonathan Carson! That’s him on the far-left; fitting in more ways than one, I feel.

Pride

Just like his creator (that’s me!), John is bisexual — that’s the Bisexual Pride flag tied around his wrist.

Other characters featured (left-to-right) in this piece are:

  • M.P. Pierce‘s Raphael (representing Asexual Pride)
  • Jules’s own Doe & Moxie (representing Lesbian and Transgender Pride)
  • K.F. Goodacre‘s Spindle Larkspur (Genderfluid Pride)

I absolutely love this piece and can’t stop staring at it, or gushing about it. Thank you so much, Jules! You’re such an incredibly talented artist and I’d love for this to become a series. The Creative Den–Discord still has an abundance of LGBT+ characters for you to play with, after all… We’re a queer old lot.

Take care, my beloved LGBT+ followers. I know it’s hard to stay positive in this world, which may seem on a par with an increasingly dystopian nightmare at times, but we’ve got to stick together and keep going. I love you all. Stay safe, and be kind to yourselves.

Big, bisexual love,

S.E. Berrow

-MWAH-

It’s Aliiiiiiiive! S.E. Berrow is back.

itsalive

Well my friends, it has been — as my Texan friends say — a hot minute since I last updated this here blog. Around about half a year ago, I officially went On Hiatus with both my writing and blogging because reality became too much to cope with.

Well, I’m pleased to say that I am now BACK! In fact, I’ve been mentally ‘back’ for a couple of months now — I just haven’t gotten round to telling you about it. Reviving this blog was waaaaaaaaaaay down the priority list, but I have a bit more time and brainspace now, so I want to change that.

Life updates coming your way, bam, bam, bam, bam!


New Digs

At of December 2018, I finally — finally — moved house! Yes, it’s true. I am now living with my boyfriend of 4½ years and our menagerie of animals. The entire moving process was hella stressful, I must say. 1/10, would not recommend.

For the first month or so I feared we’d made a dreadful mistake. Everything was still in boxes, we had no internet or sofas, and it was pretty clear that certain parts of the house weren’t in quite as good nick as we’d initially thought.

Things only got even worse in January when one of our cats — poor, lovely, beautiful Flick — died suddenly and unexpectedly. You’ll recall I did a little teaser post about my imminent return at the beginning of January? Well… that’s why nothing came of it ’til now; Flick’s death really threw us for six.

But! I’m pleased to report we’re now much more settled in our new home and are taking serious steps to improve it even more! Our furbabies are very happy and we all feel much more at home. Hooray!


Writing

It’s official: Draft 2 of The Mayor is underway! As you may have seen from my website’s Compass during the month of April, I took part in Camp Nanowrimo (failed miserably, but whatever) to make headway with it. More than a decade has passed since I wrote the original first draft of The Mayor‘s first half — and whoa boy, it shows — so I’m having to rewrite large chunks. I’m really pleased with the results so far though. I find it very satisfying to compare my terribly worded, awful first draft to my brand new shiny draft. Editing in general is a renowned pain in the arse, but nobody told me how awesome it would feel to make things good, guys!

I don’t think I’ll meet my goal of finishing Draft 2 by the end of this year, but I’m definitely going to try. At the very least, I’m hoping to take part in the Curtis Brown First Novel Prize which ends at midday on the 1st August. 10,000 words? An 800 word synopsis? Adult novel of any genre? Doesn’t have to be completely finished? That’s me! I can do that! Wish me luck!

I have to say, just giving myself something to work towards has been a real motivator, so regardless of how I place in the competition, that alone makes the whole thing worth it.


Fitness

I’m doing Tough Mudder again this year (after deferring from last year), so I need to get fit again. Exercise, much like writing and blogging, had to take a backseat last year in the face of overwhelming depression and anxiety. As such, I’ve taken up running and thus far, have been very disciplined in sticking to it. Hell, I’d actually go so far as to say I’m enjoying it! I’ve got new running shoes, a running belt for keeping my phone in, saw a physio on Friday to check I hadn’t done myself an injury… Oh yeah. I’m taking this very seriously.

I’ve been following the NHS’s Couch to 5K programme, which is excellent, and I have Zombies, Run! ready to go when I finish it. I already feel so much better! My resting heart rate has decreased by 7 bpm in less than a month. I just feel more like myself again.

Need to get myself back up to half-marathon standard. Then I guess I’d better start weight-lifting to tackle those obstacles…


Currently reading: The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (second book in The Broken Earth trilogy… go read the first book, The Fifth Season, if you haven’t already; it’s glorious)

Currently listening to: I just finished listening to the excellent Binge Mode: Harry Potter (an analytical podcast covering all 7 books, all 8 films and the wider Potter canon), so now I’m catching up on all the music I’ve missed over the last three months whilst listening to that.

Currently watching: Nothing at the moment. Game of Thrones, I guess? Even though these last couple of seasons have pissed me off royally. I just finished watching Season 4 of Outlander (what a wild ride that was) and Season 8 of Taskmaster starts tonight!


That’s all for now. Phew! It’s good to be back. I’ll post here again very soon and hope not to leave it so long next time!

Take care!

S.E. Berrow

Peter Connelly’s The Dark Angel Symphony Kickstarter needs your help! @tombraider_DA #TRDarkAngel #TombRaider

Hello, everyone!

I’m still on hiatus, however I’m just dropping by to tell you about an amazing project that I think needs your attention!

Peter Connelly — the amazing composer who worked on the soundtracks for Tomb Raider IV: The Last Revelation, Tomb Raider: Chronicles and Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness — has a Kickstarter going at the moment to extend, hone and reimagine the incredible music from those games (Nathan McCree, another Core Design-employed composer, did something similar with The Tomb Raider Suite; orchestrated soundtracks for Tomb Raider‘s I, II and III, and it’s fantastic).

Now just imagine what this, this, or this would sound like completely remastered and incorporated into an entirely new and stunning piece of music… I’m salivating just thinking about it!

Please, if you can spare a few £s and/or ps, please make your way on over to http://kck.st/2P58vMK (or click one of the images below) and pledge to bring this project to life. The Kickstarter has, unfortunately, already failed once, however after it relaunched on November 1st it racked up 55% of its goal in just 24 hours! There’s some amazing stuff up for grabs, including original concept artwork from Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.

Tomb Raider The Dark Angel Symphony Reborn

Please help this project become a reality. It would mean the world to me if you did ♥ Even if you just put a single pound towards it and share it, it would make such a difference. It’s all I want for Christmas, haha.

More information on the website here: https://trdarkangel.com/

Tomb Raider The Dark Angel Symphony

Thanks, guys. I appreciate you probably don’t follow me for this sort of stuff… Normal service to resume shortly (promise!) as house stuff finally seems to be moving along, touchwood.

S.E. Berrow

S.E. Berrow On Hiatus

I’m sorry to announce that due to various life stresses such as house-buying, work and social commitments, I am now officially On Hiatus.

By this, I mean I can no longer fool myself that I have the time, will, or inclination to create. My mind is a hideous, carnival-like hellscape — a carousel of anxiety and despair, going round and round in my head; a house of horrors from which I cannot escape, where the worst possible scenario threatens to jump out at me around every corner.

My mind is so occupied with things that are not writing, that I cannot effectively edit The Mayor: Part One. I cannot churn out even a paragraph for my John novella. I can’t even maintain this blog — it’s not acceptable. I fall at every hurdle. I fail at every task and goal I set myself. All I succeed in doing is sitting down at a desk and staring at a computer screen. I type out maybe… 4 words over the course of half an hour? Then I cry. And cry. And cry.

Not being able to write is making my anxiety worse. As such, this is me accepting that it’s just not going to happen until I am in a better place, both physically, and mentally. Thus… hiatus.

It’s not all doom and gloom. I fully intend to pick everything up again as soon as this dark cloud passes. Also my writing partner, K.F. Goodacre, is drip-feeding me her own edits of The Mayor: Part One for me to read and absorb, and we have our writing retreat to look forward to in late November. Until then, I can still research. I can still world-build. I find these sorts of things are less taxing than editing or writing — they are true escapism. When I’m having an OK day, I can also stretch to adding to my outline of The Mayor: Part Two, which is definitely productive.

I’ve also commissioned some artworks from my illustrator Brettarts of some of my favourite scenes and characters from The Mayor to inspire me and bring me pleasure. Below is one such example of these depicting my characters, Melora and John. I can’t wait to have this incredible image printed, framed, and put on display in the office of my new house (when things eventually start moving on that front). I hope you like it ♥

JohnandMelora

I’m sorry to my friends and Beta readers I’m letting down with this news, but please know that it is absolutely necessary if I am to make it to next year at all.

Take care,

S.E. Berrow

Milestones, Novellas and Ravens

Hello, Everyone!

I confess I’ve been rather amiss with my blogging of late. It’s my aim to catch up eventually, but these last couple of months have been an absolute whirlwind of activity and, much to my chagrin, June looks even worse. So, without further ado…

I’m just stopping by the officially announce…

~*~ I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE MAYOR ~*~

Huzzah

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Yes my friends, it has been A Struggle. After many, many years of trials, tribulations and tears, I finally have done it. I have written A Book. I’m so, so happy.

So what’s next?

Well, for the time being, I’ve put myself on an Enforced Break, fully endorsed by my writing partner K.F. Goodacre. This means I’m not even looking at my novel and actively trying not to think about it… which is much harder than it sounds. In the meantime, K.F. Goodacre has taken my book off my hands and is going to spend the next two months doing an initial edit for me. What a brave soul she is…

RavensTo distract myself, I’ve been catching up on some TV (Black Sails anyone?), reading 18th century books that aren’t mine (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee) and keeping myself away from computer screens as much as possible. A couple of weekends ago my work colleague and friend from Latvia visited, and we went to the Tower of London to see the ravens ♥ This weekend just gone, I pampered myself with various lotions and potions (‘Drops Of Light’ facial peel from The Body Shop), enjoyed the warm weather and spent quality time with my boyfriend and his family. Self-care and socialising was something I seriously neglected during the months of March and April, so it feels good to be connecting with myself and the world again.

I’ve also started outlining a novella about my character, Jonathan Carson, which I’m hoping will inform my writing for Book 2 and also serve as a nice way to blow off steam when I eventually get round to editing my book. It is an absolute monster of a novel, standing at well over 200,000 words. I need to get it down to somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 plus sort out the worldbuilding, plus tighten up the plot, plus build on certain characters, plus cut others completely, plus

What was that? Oh yes, sorry, I’m not meant to be thinking about this stuff at the moment.

Until next time, Lovelies x

Take care,

S.E. Berrow

Phantoms, Dollhouses and Easter Wishes

Happy Easter, everyone! I hope you’re all having a lovely long weekend. For those of you who are working over the Easter Holidays, I will keep you in my thoughts! ♥

No writing challenge answers this week. Today’s blog post consists of Important Life Updates:

I’ve moved house!

Yes, it’s true. I’ve temporarily moved back in with my parents whilst I wait for the sale of my boyfriend’s flat to go through. I can’t say how long I’ll be here for, but I’ve been made to feel very welcome and today was the first day since Tuesday (the day I moved out) that I’ve actually begun to feel truly settled. Throughout the whole of March I’ve essentially been AN ENORMOUS BALL OF STRESS and I can only apologise to all who encountered me during that time and had to put up with me and my madness.Sarah Andersen

I’m glad it’s over now and can get stuck back into the thing I love to do most…

Writing

For those who’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m massively behind with the deadline for finishing my WIP, The Mayor. I originally intended to finish Draft One by the end of December, but had to push the deadline back until the end of February for the sake of my mental health (see here). That revised deadline went completely out the window when I started going through the process of selling my home, plus I began having serious self-doubt along with Anxiety-triggering frustration over my complete inability to finish my manuscript. Going on a really nice holiday for two weeks at the beginning of March helped me out a lot; I didn’t touch my manuscript once the whole time I was gone, and when I came back I felt refreshed and excited, ready to finish everything off. I had a really productive week in the middle of March playing around with my deliciously cruel penultimate chapter… only for reality to set back in that I needed to start packing, stat.

Basically, March was a complete write-off as far as writing was concerned, but April is a new month, a new start. I’m in a new place where I have fewer responsibilities to shoulder all by myself (house maintenance, cooking, cleaning etc.), plus I’m genuinely excited to get to grips with the last two chapters and very short epilogue. Wish me luck.

Once I’m finished (please, God, let it be soon), I’m going to take a break — maybe write a novella about my character Jonathan Carson — whilst K.F. Goodacre takes to my work with razor-sharp scalpel and hammers my words into some semblance of a manageable pile.

Dollies!

Speaking of K.F. Goodacre, it seems her talents know no bounds! As a belated birthday present, she very kindly made me my protagonist Melora in doll form… Behold! She is exquisite:

Melora joins another doll made for me by K.F. Goodacre — my character Jonathan Carson. Don’t they look great together? I’m so in love. Raise your hand if you think Kim needs to start her own Etsy account making dolls of other people’s characters for money? *Hand shoots up*. Thank you so much, Parabatai! ♥

Note: The John doll is a couple of years old now. The character’s ethnicity has changed since its creation and as such, his skin should actually be much darker than what’s shown here. Kim’s assured me she will, at some point, flay John’s skin off and replace it with something more fitting. He’s got to match his brother Jaspher, after all. Watch this space…

Lastly…

Kamelot‘s new album The Shadow Theory is out next week. OMG. I’m so, so, so EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!! Especially since they dropped their (brilliant) new single last Friday entitled ‘The Phantom Divine (Shadow Empire)’, featuring Lauren Hart from melodic death metal band, Once Human. CHECK. IT. OWT:

 

Can’t wait. Simply can’t, can’t wait. Will explode from teh squee. Super excite! BRING ON LONDON IN OCTOBER ♥

That’s all for now. Ta-ta!

S.E. Berrow

2017: Year In Review

Last year when I did my annual review, I talked about how I felt as though I’d sleepwalked through the whole of 2016 (click here). I didn’t write, didn’t exercise, felt like I was sinking beneath a mountain of debt and like I’d never amount to anything. Amidst a pretty depressing backdrop of political upheaval, numerous celebrity deaths and an overwhelming sense of generational pessimism, it’s no wonder I felt so low.

BUT! I’m very pleased to report that 2017 could not have been more different. I made 3 New Years Resolutions and made excellent progress with every single one:

1. I trained my arse off and took part in Tough Mudder London South (and signed up again to take part next year).
2. I put my flat on the market and have successfully managed to find a buyer (I’m looking to move somewhere new with my boyfriend in early 2018).
3. And, most excitingly of all, at the time of writing I have added a whopping 76,088 words to The Mayorwith more to come before the year is out. Amazing! I’m on track to complete Book 1 before my new deadline of 28 February 2018.

The world is still a political clusterfuck of awful, but I’ve been patiently and steadfastly tending to my little patch and things are beginning to grow ♥

1. Album that surpassed all others:

Will To Power by Arch Enemy

Will To Power Arch Enemy

What. An. Album. A tremendous follow-up to War Eternal, Arch Enemy take their sound to new dizzying heights with their new guitarist Jeff Loomis and Alissa White-Gluz’s effortlessly versatile vocals. I don’t think there’s a single bad track on this album, but my favourite moments — hands down — have got to be:

  • Alissa’s delivery of “Get the guards and walk a dozen paces” in the gut-wrenchingly harrowing ‘First Day In Hell’; a tribute to her grandparents who survived a Nazi Concentration Camp.
  • The towering, sweeping empowerment of album closer, ‘A Fight I Must Win’.
  • The effortless slide from clean to harsh vocals in ‘Reason To Believe’ (the first clean vocals to ever feature on an Arch Enemy album).

Stunning.

Favourite tracks: ‘First Day In Hell’, ‘A Fight I Must Win’, ‘Blood In The Water’, ‘Reason To Believe’

2. Most missed artists:

Although Rasputina had an album out this year (The Feel Good Hits of 1817), I’ve come to realise that I sincerely miss the band they used to be. Melora Creager is making a concerted effort to completely remove herself from the internet, thus making anything new she puts out extremely difficult to get hold of. She’s vowed to make everything US Mail Order-only from now on i.e. no ordering online, no Paypal, no digital downloads and extremely limited pressings.

Whilst I totally get where Melora is coming from here (she got catfished quite spectacularly and it’s clearly messed with her quite badly), I do find her efforts unintentionally discriminate against fans who live abroad. For example, if she’d gone through with her original intention to make The Feel Good Hits of 1817 US Mail Order-only, it would have cost me £25 just to take out an international postal order, plus the cost of shipping which is $17 for an LP, $10 for a CD, plus the price of the album… a whopping total of $60-$70 for an album that was mostly covers and re-releases anyway. CRAZY!

But y’know, I’ll probably end up paying it anyway, because I’m a die-hard fan and will support this woman ’til the day I die. It just makes me infinitely sad that my favourite artists (like Melora Creager, Abney Park, Voltaire) rally so hard against the internet when I am literally only aware of their music because I discovered it through the internet in the first place ♥

Rasputina

3. Album that really surprised me:

Heart Shaped Wound by Aurelio Voltaire

Heart Shaped Wound

Surprising because of how personal it is!

Heart Shaped Wound contains a number of songs about gothic-folk musician Aurelio Voltaire’s tumultuous three-month relationship with an internet-famous cosplayer shortly after his divorce.

I distinctly remember Voltaire’s Instagram posts from around this time. Every single day he was posting pictures of himself with this young woman, shouting from the rooftops about how much he loved her, whilst she clearly didn’t feel the same way.

So when I heard the lyrics, “You get a tiny matching tattoo on that pristine canvas four decades new to impress a walking ransom note who’s got more ink than all the plays that Shakespeare wrote”, I did a double-take because I knew precisely who and what that song was about. Usually I’m not a fan of break-up songs. I mean, I don’t know the full story, but if any man came on to me that strong and then wrote an album about me after I broke up with him, I’d be pretty peeved! But hey, the music is good and Alissa White-Gluz features on one of the tracks… so hooray!

Favourite tracks: ‘The Folly of Love’, ‘Leaves In The Stream’ (feat. Alissa White-Gluz), ‘Human Nature’

4. Person I would most like to have tea with:

The inimitable Victoria Schwab. I’ve spoken at length before about how much I love this woman and why, so click here to learn more!

Victoria Schwab

5. The things I’ve completely had enough of:

The orange baby. Brexit. The rise of Nazism and the empowerment of the far-right. Theresa fucking May. Nigel “Garbage Fire” Farage. The political landscape in general. This whole year has been one huge political clusterfuck and it doesn’t look like it’s going away soon. Must. Stay. Strong.

6. The thing I wish I had bought myself but didn’t:

A Summer holiday. Mark and I went to Colombia very, very early on in the year (an… interesting experience), so by the time Summer rolled around, everyone else was disappearing off abroad whilst I was stuck at work with a broken air-con. It sucked.

7. Page-turner:

I. CANNOT. CHOOSE. BETWEEN THESE. THREE BOOKS. OMG.

A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E. Schwab (Magic! Princes! Pirates!)
Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb (Magic! Princes! Pirates!)
A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas (Magic! Princes! Faerie porn!)

8. Album that stirred my soul:

Ritual by In This Moment

Ritual in This Moment

Another album devoid of a single bad track. Though I confess myself a little disappointed at the complete lack of heavy vocals, Ritual is a stunning exercise in exquisite song-craft. From the galloping stampede of heavy-metal ‘Black Wedding’ (featuring Rob Halford of Judas Priest), to the beautiful vulnerability of ‘Twin Flames’. Ritual impresses again and again and again.  Plus every other song seems to be about setting someone on fire; my villain William Kale would have an absolute field day.

Favourite tracks: ‘Roots’, ‘Joan of Arc’, ‘Black Wedding’ (feat. Rob Halford), ‘Twin Flames’

9. Album that made me smile:

Kingslayer by Almanac

Almanac Kingslayer

I mean, with cover art like that how can you not smile?

Markedly leaning more towards the power side of symphonic metal than their previous effort, Almanac have once again delivered a stonker of an album with Kingslayer. This was a solid contender for ‘Album that surpassed all others’, very nearly knocking Will To Power off the top spot.

Favourite tracks: ‘Regicide’, ‘Hail To The King’, ‘Last Farewell’, ‘Guilty As Charged’

10. Most stylish person:

Edgar has been rocking his winter coat this year. He has essentially become an explosion of fur.

img_7303

Such a majestic fluffbutt.

11. Best ‘thing’:

Successfully rescuing my boyfriend’s niece’s cat Dolly after she went missing for 10 whole weeks. I lost so much sleep over this, it was so distressing! She was incredibly shy and nervous cat, even before she escaped; she’d never set foot outside before, flat-out refusing to come when called; and, because her owners live over a pub, she was too terrified to come home with so many strangers about.

Thankfully, my boyfriend spotted her hiding out in the local field and we set a trap for her. We checked back after couple of hours and there she was! Terrified and very thin but otherwise perfectly healthy. We could hardly believe it!

She’s now back home now, safe and sound, and apparently has become much more confident and affectionate since her ordeal ♥

Dolly

Also Mark and our friend Ant discovered the joy of The Panic Room this year!

So far we have successfully completed the Lovecraft-themed ‘The Gilman Hotel’ (i.e. the best escape room ever), ‘Old Father Time’ and ‘Defective Detective’. We’re booked in to do ‘The Dollhouse’ next… God knows why. It’s a horror-themed room and I’m a wimp; I could hardly handle Gilman!

I cannot recommend these guys enough! They have two locations: one in Gravesend and one in Harlow.

12. Favourite visual feast:

The Loot Train Attack scene in Game of Thrones (S7:E4). WOWZA. Chills. Here’s a cool video on the making of it:

13. Best fictional character since Sirius Black:

This year is the year I became obsessed with a bat-winged faerie prince called Rhysand. Click here to read a little bit more about him; he’s the most recent addition to my list of Top 10 Book Boyfriends.

img_5538

14. Coolest rock star:

Victoria Schwab. Wait, what do you mean she’s not a rock star?!

VE Schwab

QUEEN. See my answer to Question 4 above.

15. Best gig:

It’s a toss-up between going to see Evanescence at the Eventim Apollo (14 June 2017) for the sheer nostalgia value, or Amaranthe at the Islington Assembly Hall (3 November 2017). So much crackling energy and a stellar setlist!

Sadly I never got round to writing a review for either of these events because I’ve been so busy squirrelling away at The Mayor. I hope to be able to write more gig reviews in 2018 once Book One of The Mayor is complete.

16. Most special moment:

My long-weekend away with my boyfriend in November. We visited the wonderful ‘Terry Pratchett: His World’ exhibition in Salisbury, saw the Magna Carter, and took in the gorgeous Georgian architecture and Roman baths of Bath.

Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 14.52.02

17. Song of the year:

‘Roots’ by In This Moment has become my anthem for 2017.

 

18. Biggest achievement:

TOUGH MUDDER.

Tough Mudder

Without a doubt the hardest thing (physically) I’ve ever had to do in my life. I laughed. I cried. I almost died. Nothing can compare to the sheer elation and sense of accomplishment upon crossing that finish line!

Best Obstacle: Block Ness Monster
Worst Obstacle: Arctic Enema (BECAUSE I THOUGHT I WOULD DIE)

19. Biggest regret:

Je ne regrette rien.

20. New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Complete Book One of The Mayor
  2. Complete a second draft of The Mayor
  3. Move in with my boyfriend and our menagerie of animals

Bonus! Instagram’s #2017 Best Nine:

BestNine

Happy New Year!

S.E. Berrow


For more information on items, people or bands mentioned in this post, please click the below links:

Music:

http://www.archenemy.net/en/
https://rasputina.com/
http://www.voltaire.net/
http://www.inthismomentofficial.com/
http://www.almanac.band/
http://www.evanescence.com/
http://amaranthe.se/

Books:

http://www.veschwab.com/
http://www.robinhobb.com/
http://sarahjmaas.com/

TV:

https://www.hbo.com/game-of-thrones

Madness:

https://toughmudder.co.uk/

‘Rhysand’ fan art is by Taratjah.

‘Tis The Season to be Stressed Out, Fa La La La La, La La La, HALP

OK guys. Confession time.

I’m not going to make my end of year deadline to complete a first draft of The Mayor.

Here’s the situation:

In a previous post (see here), I explained how I still had 8 more chapters left to write, and was aiming to finish a chapter a week.

Well, this plan fell on the wayside pretty quickly, because it took me 3 weeks to complete just one chapter told from the POV of my villain.

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 23.52.21
Our writing retreat in the Cotswolds… Take me back!

Now, I’ve spoken before about how hard Kale is to write in the past; understatement of the century as I’m concerned. This particular chapter was even harder, because it dealt with long-awaited revelations, violent payoffs and a fuck-ton of allegory. Add that to real-world, catatonia-inducing stress (I decided that now, just before Christmas, would be the perfect time to sell my house for some stupid reason), and you can imagine how hard it was for me to sit down and force those words out.

As for the 4-day writing retreat with K.F. Goodacre? Productive as it was (I’d probably still be stuck on that Kale chapter if I hadn’t gone), it was only 2 days long, not 4.

So I still have 5 chapters left to write, and less than 4 weeks to write them.

I have shed actual tears over this. I have had anxiety attacks. I’ve felt like a complete failure and like I was letting not only myself down, but other people as well: my writing partner; my boyfriend, my friends who read what I write as I go along…

But the other night while I was having a shower (it’s amazing how much a nice hot shower clears my head), I had an epiphany:

  • I’m not being paid to do this. I’m not published. I don’t have an agent. I’m not locked in a contract. I don’t have any obligations beyond the ridiculously high standards I’ve foolishly set for myself.
  • It’s the festive season. I usually love Christmas, but this year so far, I haven’t been enjoying it at all, because I’ve been so wrapped up in worrying about how I’m not going to meet my deadline on top of work stuff, house stuff, money worries, and other things I can’t control. I can however control my deadline. Why? Because it’s self-imposed.
  • Most of my writing happens at the weekend… but I’m fully-booked from now until Christmas. I do not want to be resenting the fact that I’m spending time with the people I love — or worse yet cancelling on them at the last minute — because of a self-imposed deadline.
  • This last month has been a struggle. A real struggle, mental health-wise. This wasn’t helped by the fact I didn’t win NaNoWriMo, even though I knew there wasn’t a chance in Hell that I would when I started. WHY, BRAIN?! WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME?
    Throw a lapsed deadline and a failed 2017 New Year’s Resolution into the mix, and at this point I’m running pretty close to throwing in the towel altogether. My finger is practically hovering over the delete button, Guys, and that is not good! THAT IS NOT GOOD AT ALL. (I’ve actually done this before with a previous WIP, and have regretted it ever since).

If I’m objectively honest with myself, I’ve done amazingly well this year. I’ve written almost 75,000 words of my novel — more than I’ve ever written in a single year in my life — all while maintaining a household, caring for two cats, and holding down a full-time job. I’m within touching distance of the finish line, so to fall at the last hurdle would be an absolute tragedy.

Therefore I’ve made the difficult decision to extend my deadline by 2 months. Instead of 31 December 2017, I will now be aiming to have a first draft completed by 28 February 2018. (This is actually a pretty excessive deadline — I should in theory be able to do it in one).

I hope you guys aren’t too disappointed in me. I’m so sorry to have let you down if you were excited about the prospect of me finishing, but I think it will totally worth it in the end because I will actually have a story to share with you ♥

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


P.S. Just so this post isn’t entirely disappointing and depressing… here are some random things I’m really loving at the moment that I want to share with you!

Books: The Six Of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo — a New Adult heist story set in a fantasy world based on 19th century Tsarist Russia. It has a wonderfully diverse cast with some great characterisation — and the story is so much fun! I just don’t want it to end.

Music: Kingslayer by symphonic power-metal band, Almanac — especially the opening track, ‘Regicide’:

On the morning after the king has lost his crown,
Only tears and laughter come together now.
When my senses fail us, I’ll fade without a sound.
When I see you fail I’ll break in to break you down.

Also the album art is great. It’s so, so good; currently tied with Arch Enemy‘s Will To Power for my personal Favourite Album of the Year, 2017.

Lipsticks:Naked Witch‘ by the lovely ladies at Necromancy Cosmetica. At last! I can now make myself look like a ghost without using my foundation as a lipstick! Their palest nude ‘Healing Stone‘ is simply gorgeous too. I love them both. Love love love.

I’m also super amazed at how — despite being without power for 90+ days (being based in the hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico) — they were still able to safely ship my order to me in a matter of days ♥