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, missing week after week of the #AcresofInk blog challenge — 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 — #AcresofInk challenge included — 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 ♥

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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

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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

‘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.

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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 ♥

Of Gingernut Biscuits and Pirate Doubloons

First of all, I must apologise for the fact that I am now behind by a week in my 30 Week Writing Challenge. This is because Question 9 is a hefty one and I can't just bash the answer out in five minutes. I need to actually sit down and make the time to answer it properly. My intention therefore is to answer two questions for this week, so please stay tuned this Wednesday.

For now however, I have a couple of other cool things to share with you:

This July, I won my first ever Camp NaNoWriMo. I feel like I keep participating in these events and failing — which is rather disheartening — so this time I made sure to set myself a realistic goal that I could meet despite having a full-time job, a boyfriend, and a family to placate.  The aim was to write for the equivalent of 1 hour for every day of the month of July. It worked! I smashed it, I had fun, and I'm just that little bit closer to meeting my self-imposed 31st December 2017 deadline for completing a first draft of The Mayor. Hazzah!

Camp NaNoWriMo

Something else cool, my writing partner K.F. Goodacre recently attended a medieval festival called the Loxwood Joust. First of all, can I just say how jealous I am. I love all things medieval (I read Medieval History at University) so it is my fervent hope that I am able to go with her next time. It looked like such amazing fun!

Whilst she was there, she very kindly picked up some homemade gingernut biscuits for me, which were made according to a recipe from the 18th century. The true thoughtfulness of this gesture will be lost on you, Dear Reader, so I will endeavour to explain. Melora  the 18th century protagonist of The Mayor – adores gingernut biscuits. They are her absolute favourite, and I use them as a neat little device for helping her to form bonds with other characters (Redcoat Jack for example gives Melora gingernut biscuits to help her with seasickness when she first joins his ship). Kim knew this, so she bought them for me from this festival (not very medieval, I know, but still historical I guess!). They're so awesome, I'm almost reluctant to eat them. Almost.

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As if that weren't enough, she also gifted me with a genuine pirate doubloon from a company she has forgotten the name of (I'm trying to find out) who have helped provide productions like Game of Thrones and Pirates of the Caribbean with their props. Lookie!

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OK, it's not actually a doubloon. Real doubloons were made of gold. This is essentially the pirate equivalent of a penny, but it is still beautiful! I love it. It looks very similar to the necklace that my character Nell Shoar wears, wouldn't you agree?:

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Thank you so much, Kimothy! ♥ I knew you were my writing partner for a reason. Thank you for continuing to inspire and motivate me to write this blasted thing.

Lastly (slightly off-topic) Voltaire's new album Heart-Shaped Wound dropped on Friday. It. Is. Awesome. Voltaire, for those of you not in the know, is huge news on the Goth scene and his piratey album To The Bottom of the Sea features heavily on the playlist for The Mayor. Decidedly more melancholic and personal than the likes of say, 'Zombie Prostitute' and 'Brains!', I strongly recommend Heart-Shaped Wound. Please check it out here – it's on sale and you won't regret it! It even features the likes of incredible metal vocalist Alissa White-Gluz (now there's a musical collaboration I definitely didn't see coming! It's so good to hear her singing cleans again).

That's all for now, folks. Hoping to speak to you again next Wednesday, when I finally get around to that question from Week 9 of the Writing Challenge…

Take care,

 

S.E. Berrow

Falling Behind

It’s all been a bit quiet here on the blogging front at seberrow.com. With Christmas and the end of the year rapidly approaching, my spare time has been taken up with extra work, socialising, writing torture scenes (so festive) and baking mini Christmas puddings care of Nigella Lawson. I may also have been drowning in a sea of Fitzy feels whilst reading Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb, watching too much I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here! and overindulging in Life Killer 4 (also known as Fallout).

Presently I have no less than 4 outstanding blog posts to write for you all. Come Saturday after the Nightwish gig, that number will creep up to a rather intimidating 5:

  1. My NaNoWriMo experience
  2. Album Review: Innuendo by Amberian Dawn
  3. Book Review: Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb
  4. My romantic weekend in Leeds Castle
  5. Gig Review: Nightwish, Wembley Arena (19.12.2015)

Fortunately I have some time off over Christmas, so I’m hoping to rectify all this soon. Until then, many thanks for your patience!

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


ETA (23.12.2015): Links will added as each planned blog post is written.

 

Welcome to the new official website for S.E. Berrow

It’s much like the old one, only slicker, tidier and, from a personal point of view, easier to maintain. I’ve migrated away from Blogger largely due to my complete inability to work Google’s interface, plus WordPress has lots of really great features that I hope to take advantage of in order to blog – and hopefully write! – more often.

So, as I continue to make headway on my current projects, Salt (a psychological urban fantasy thriller set within the dark underbelly of New Orleans) and The Mayor (an epic historical fantasy set on the high seas of the 18th century), here is a list of things you can look forward to reading about in the not-too-distant future:

  • Updates on my writing progress
  • Notes on my writing process and inspirations
  • Any interesting research that I come across
  • Music, gig and book reviews (on this latter point, you may wish to check out my Goodreads)
  • General life updates
  • Pictures of my cat

I’m also looking forward to building up my website’s content in order to make it a more informative and interactive experience for you all.

In the meantime, take care, and I shall speak with you soon.

S.E. Berrow