Blogging Hiatus and Quarterly Goals

Hello Hello!

So, I have been on a bit of a blogging hiatus recently. I have been so busy, and was lacking motivation to post reviews. For a while I managed to keep up with my weekly memes, and then they just died out too. But I have an excuse, honest!

First excuse,  I was applying to Masters courses in Creative Writing, and then there were Interviews to attend, campuses to visit and decisions to be made. I am really excited to be able to say that I am starting an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in September!

After that I went to my best friends wedding in Dubai, which was the adventure of a lifetime. I got henna, visited a mosque and a hospital wearing an abaya and shayla, attended a proper Arabic wedding, learnt how to dance and rode a Nations Cup horse!! I honestly had the best time and my friends wedding was absolutely beautiful. I wish her and her husband all the happiness for the future and I can not wait for my next trip to Dubai to see them both!

Finally, I made the decision to move to Bath and get a job, so that by September I would have somewhere to live and wouldn’t have to compete with hundreds of other students for part time jobs.  I found a Flat and three jobs! One of them is in a traditional Sweet Shop, with jars all along the walls, and old fashioned sweets. I love it there, it is the first time I have ever worked in a “retail” job and I am enjoying every minute.

All of this upheaval has meant that my routine has been up in the air for a while, and I haven’t achieved some of the things I wanted to. So I have decided to take on the advice of Jenna Moreci, my favourite vlogger and all round awesome cyborg, and make a quarterly goal list, online, where I can be “held accountable for failing miserably when I do not achieve my goals”. So here we go:

My goals for the Next Quarter (July, August, September)

1. Make a blogging schedule and commit to it.

2. Read five books from my TBR pile. (Seriously, that pile of books has overtaken my bookshelves.)

3. Finish making my flatpack chest of drawers and post pictures. (accountability- yay!)

4. Finish my picture wall. (Right now it looks really sad because I stuck five pictures up before I ran out of Blu-Tack. I bought Blu-Tack, but didn’t finish the job.)

5. Revamp my Twitter Account, Google Plus page and my blog. I just don’t feel this theme is working for me at all, but I need a whole day where I can really work on it and make it awesome.

6.  Sort out my career development loan. (I have been putting this off because I hate dealing with banks, but I just realised that I am starting my degree in less than three months- oops!)

7. Sort out my ARCs and make sure I am reading them in order of release, not just because I am super excited about them…

8. Buy ring-binders and start off the course in an organised fashion.

9. Write five hundred words a day. (On anything. I just want to get into the habit of writing SOMETHING!)

10. Finally, set up a blog of my journey through my Creative Writing Masters. I know, you are probably thinking, WHAAAT? Is this girl crazy? She can barely keep up with one blog, no matter two! Don’t worry kind, concerned reader. The new blog will mainly be a place to talk about the course and a platform for me to showcase my own work. This blog will always be my main priority!

So, that’s it. I am going to create a page on this blog with all of my goals on it, so I can easily see what I have left to do!

Have any of you created any goals for the summer? Or done a Masters in Creative Writing? Leave me a comment, or tweet me @Eleanorjames

Much booky love,

Bath Literature Festival – Tuesday Round-Up

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I am currently in Bath for the literature festival which is really exciting. Yesterday I had the best day. In the daytime I went to a workshop called “How to Promote your Self Published Book” run by Flic Everett, author of ‘The only friends you need’.

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First of all Flic talked to us about the importance of a good title. It should be catchy, interesting but still tell the reader what the book is about. She gave examples of many famous books, all of which have titles that are one or two words long, such as Jane Eyre, 1984, Emma and Wuthering Heights.

Next, we looked at book covers. For this, it was really important that we knew what genre our book would fit into so we split up into groups and described our books to others in the group. There were two writers in my group who had already self-published books. One novel was aimed at 7-9 years olds and the other writer had written two literary novels set in Bath (The promotional material is shown in the picture below). There was a writer who had planned his novel out and another writer who was at the very beginning of starting her novel, so we had a really good mix!

We decided that my novel was a Young Adult so it would need a bold cover that stood out and was modern. Flic suggested that we looked at other books in the same genre to get ideas for our cover. You also need to make sure you leave lots of room for the title, so that it doesn’t look like the title and picture are ‘competing’ for space.

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The promotional material for two of the authors in my group at the workshop.

Next we had to come up with an “Elevator Pitch” which is where you describe your novel in the time it would take to ride on an ‘elevator’ from the ground floor to the top floor of a building. I found this exercise much more difficult than I expected as there are so many underlying themes to my book, so I think if I was to self publish I need to pick one theme to market and commit to that.

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Some of the things I was given by people in the workshop, including a novel and an audiobook to review.

Finally we talked about marketing your book, which is where I came into my element! We talked about how to use Twitter, Facebook and…book bloggers! I got the chance to talk to the whole group about how a book blogger will feel about being asked to review a book (which is, most of the time, really honoured!), review policies, connecting on Facebook by starting conversations as opposed to “empty follows” and what to expect from a book bloggers review. This meant that loads of people came up to me afterwards to have a chat and I made loads of really useful contacts. I was even given a novel and a short story audio book to review!

Overall the entire workshop was great and I realised how friendly, supportive and welcoming the writing community are.

In the evening, my lovely sister (from and I went to see a question and answer session with David Nicholls, author of Starter for Ten, The Understudy and One Day. He was there to talk about his new book Us (which I am halfway through, and let me tell you, it is GOOOD!)

Viv Groskop, the Artistic Director of Bath Literature Festival, was asking the questions and she asked some really interesting (and difficult) questions such as “Would your books be described as chick-lit if you were called Davina?” to which David agreed that many women writers are not given the acclaim they deserve. However, he did stress how unhealthy he thought it was when writers analysed how good their own writing was in comparison to these other authors and stated that he hadn’t thought about it too much.

At the end we were given the opportunity to get our books signed and ask David a question. I asked whether he thought his screenwriting experience had helped when writing dialogues in his novels. He described how both screenwriting and watching films have helped him and that often when writing dialogue you can cut the beginning and ending out. Characters in films tend to be far more instant and abrupt and when writing dialogue in novels, using this method can really help keep it short and interesting. I vowed to go home and watch lots of films to understand how the dialogue works. Any excuse eh?

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Me with my signed book!

After the talk we went to the Canary Gin Bar to have a cocktail before heading home. The view over the Abbey was amazing with the full moon behind it.

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Overall I had a brilliant day and I am thoroughly looking forward to tomorrow when I shall be attending the workshop “Giving Characters a Voice”.