My holiday in books

Sunset
Smugglers Cove, Fiji

Sometimes I find it hard to find the time to read. When I’m not at work, keeping house, or being a taxi driver for my kids, my spare time is spent writing. How else am I going to get it done, right? So sometimes, sitting down to read a book seems like an impossibility. Holidays are different. Holidays are when all that other stuff gets pushed to the side and there is an opportunity to do whatever the hell you like. Well, that’s the theory, anyway.

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I got to spend last week in Fiji. Also commonly referred to as paradise. Just look at the picture above. That was taken while I was out for dinner at a little place called Smugglers Cove and eating char-grilled baby octopus.

So in between that harsh life of swimming, snorkeling, racing down zip lines and eating delicious food, the thing I looked forward to the most was having the chance to read with zero guilt over having other things to do. I even switched my brain off the plot of my next novel, though I did make a few notes. My ‘to read’ pile is huge. There are so many books I want to read, so many authors I want to support, that it makes it difficult to know where to start. But holidays aren’t holidays without reading. So, here is my holiday in books.


Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

Endangered

 

A book I had started but hadn’t quite finished by the time I left, Endangered is the story of Sophie and a young bonobo called Otto. It is a story of political turmoil and sadness and the horrors faced in the Congo. But it is also the story of hope and triumph and friendship and adventure.

 

 

Under A Million Stars by Rita Branches

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I’ve read Rita’s first book, Painting Sky (see my reading recommendation here) and was thrilled to receive an advanced readers’ copy of her next book, Under A Million Stars. I won’t say too much about it here as it will get a post all of its own closer to the release date, but you can tell from the cover alone that it is a story of sadness and love.

 

Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

complicit
This book is dark and strange and creepy and does not have a happy ending, so naturally, I loved it. I can’t remember how I came across this book. Whether I was attracted to the cover, whether I read a review on Goodreads, but whatever reason it was, I’m pleased I bought it. It tells the tale of Jamie and his sister Cate, who has just been released from juvenile detention. The story that follows delves into their past and sets the scene for their futures. It is a twisted story that leaves you unsure of your feelings towards the characters. There are no dancing unicorns or sparkling rainbows in this story. Loved it.


The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

raven
I’m pretty sure Maggie Stiefvater could write the telephone book, and somehow, I would find it enthralling. I dog-eared pages in this book. If you don’t know me well, this may mean nothing to you. But I have never dog-eared a page before in my life. I like to keep my books pristine. This book, however, needs to be loved. It needs to be read with a highlighter in hand. It needs notes scrawled in the margins. Its pages need to be dog-eared. They DESERVE to be dog-eared. And the kiss. Finally the kiss. No, I am not talking about Gansey and Blue. I’ve never come across a kiss more perfectly explained. Maggie arranges words in the most perfectly wonderful way.
So that was my reading list. I hoped to read more, but alas, the sun and the ocean beckoned and that’s all I got to read. My ‘to read’ pile is ever so slightly smaller and my relaxation tanks a little more full. The kids only have a few more days of school holidays and then more normal routine and novel plotting will continue.

Hope this post finds you well. Thanks for popping by!

Abby Wilder lettering

*All book cover images sourced via Goodreads.

Oh, if you love to travel, follow my friends ‘The Galavanters’ over on Youtube, Instagram, or via their blog. A family currently on a six week journey around Thailand and Vietnam they are responsible for some wicked imagery. Just check out the clip below.

 

 

 

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Why do we procrastinate?

I love writing, I really do. It’s what I want to spend my life doing. I love to sit down at the keyboard with ideas running through my brain and my fingers struggling to keep up. At the moment I’m in the editing phase which isn’t as fun as the actual writing, but I still enjoy it. I have not looked at the draft of my book for six weeks and it gives me somewhat of a fresh approach. This week was the first time I got back into it after the school holidays. And by ‘it’ I mean the Abby Wilder part of my life. My boy and my girl started back at school and I had my usual day off work, so I sat down at my computer ready to get back into it.

The best way

I was excited. I had looked forward to this day for weeks. So why was it that when I sat down at my computer, I did everything else apart from work on my novel?

I opened Facebook and somehow stumbled across an article on Zero Carb lifestyles. I ended up on a blog with interviews of people eating this way and I was fascinated. A few articles in and I realised I was getting distracted, so I pulled myself away and determined to start reading/editing. Then I thought I might check on the sales of my books. I hadn’t done that in a while and since it was my first day back on the job so to speak, I thought it would be a good idea. I was pleasantly surprised by the sales and downloads ticking by, considering my lack of marketing. But since I had checked the sales, I thought I should really pop over to Goodreads and Amazon and check out the reviews. While reading reviews my thoughts usually vary from, ‘Yes, they get me! They totally understood what I was trying to portray. They loved my characters! Life is so wonderful right now I could explode with happiness,’ to, ‘Oh my goodness, why are people so cruel. I think I will curl up into a ball and gently rock myself to sleep.’

So it was about time I started editing. I was looking forward to it. I wanted to edit, but I found myself blindly clicking links on Twitter, looking at pretty pictures of characters on Tumblr, back on Facebook sighing over articles and chuckling over status updates, and checking out cute kitten pictures on Instagram. I have three cats. I like them. Most days.

Sox
My daughter’s cute kitten Sox.

I even considered writing this blog post, but I admitted to myself that writing a blog post about avoiding editing was in itself another form of procrastination, so two hours after I should have started, I finally did.

And I enjoyed it. I got lots done. And I was annoyed I had wasted so much time at the beginning of my day because I could have accomplished so much more.

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Yes, sorry it’s blurry but I can’t very well go publishing pages of my next novel now, can I?

So why do we do it to ourselves?

Why do we procrastinate even from the things we want to be doing?

If you think I am going to give some profound answer into the thought process of the human psyche, sorry. I am asking the question, not answering it.

I was told that writing is like a muscle. You must exercise it in order for it to grow. And for your muscles to grow, you’ve got to move. You can’t sit on the couch and think about moving. You can’t read articles on the benefits of moving or the ways in which you should move. You’ve actually got to get off your backside and do it. I needed to pick up the draft of my book and start. Which I did . . . eventually.

So I have forgiven myself for my little veer off course into procrastination and next week I will get straight into it. I promise. I hope. Well, let’s just say the intention is there. The best of intentions.

Okay, so maybe we’ll just wait and see what happens.

Abby Wilder lettering

 

 

 

Trout, New Year’s Resolutions & Sunsets

I’ve been thinking about my blog lately and trying to decide which direction to take it. I have no formula to follow, no set topic or subject to write about. I could write only about my books, or the writing journey in general. I could write book reviews, or about my thoughts on movies and TV series. I could include random facts, sayings I like, or personal struggles or thoughts. But I don’t really want to restrict myself to writing about only one of these things. I have many blog post ideas that pop into my head, but I very rarely write any of them, wondering where they would fit into the subject of my blog. So this year I have decided that the theme of my blog can be anything that pops into my head. Probably a little of all of the above. I apologise in advance.

In this blog I have decided to tell you about the difference between salmon and trout. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

fish
The fish in question. Weigh in if you think I’m wrong in assuming it was a Rainbow Trout.

Over the holiday period my family and I headed up to canals, the same ones mentioned in Girl Beneath Stars, to do a bit of fishing. I’m not a big fan of fishing, mainly because I would rather sit and read than have a line in the water, but on this occasion I caught a rather large rainbow trout, 15lb* actually, which a lot of fisherman go their whole lives trying to catch. Anyway, I posted a photo on social media of one of the fish we caught, and somebody promptly informed me that the fish is not a rainbow trout, but instead a salmon. This annoyed me ever so slight as I was unsure how someone could tell more about a fish from a photo than my father who has fished the canals all his life. So I looked into it a little. Salmon and trout belong to the same family and it is often hard to tell them apart. Salmon usually have more curved tails whereas the trout’s tails are more square. The easiest way to to tell the difference between salmon and trout (when in doubt) is to count the number of rays on the anal fin. All trout have 12 or less rays in this fin, whereas salmon have 13 or more rays. Unfortunately, I never counted the rays on the fins, so I guess we will never really know for certain, but considering the fact that all salmon in the canals would have been in salmon farms at one stage of their lives, any salmon caught would have had worn tails from brushing against the nets. Also all the salmon in the farms on these canals were female, so there was no chance of any escaping and breeding.
Now don’t you feel better for knowing that little random fact? If anyone ever questions whether you have caught a salmon or trout, you can answer them definitively on the subject.

The other thing I thought I would write about in this first blog of the new year, was New Year’s Resolutions. Did you make any?
I have always steered clear of this tradition as usually if I want to make changes, I do, regardless of the time of year, and over here the New Year is in the middle of our summer holiday period. Hardly the time to be cutting back on the wine and chocolate. If I were to make a resolution, more often than not, it would have been about my weight. Like a lot of people, I have struggled with my weight over the years. Just recently I was looking over old photos and noticed how my weight fluctuated up and down. I am an all in, or all out kind of person. I either have extreme self control, or none. So this year, rather than worrying about my weight, I have decided not to be a slave to my body. What I mean by that is I will not let my weight dictate my actions. There have been times in my life when I have refused to go out for a meal with my friends as it would break my diet. Or times when I would start to panic if I hadn’t been to the gym in a few days. This was being a slave to my body. My self image, the way I looked, my body, dictated where I would go, what I would do, and what I would eat. On the opposite end of the scale, during the times in my life when I was bigger than I was comfortable with, I was still a slave to my body as I wouldn’t go swimming or give certain activities a try for fear of what I would look like doing them. So this year, my resolution is not to lose weight, but instead not to let my weight control my actions. If I want to go swimming but am feeling like the dessert I ate the night before makes stomach stick out that little bit more than usual, I am going to go swimming. If I’m in the middle of a diet and my friends ask my out of a meal, I will say yes. I will not be a slave to my body. Yes, I plan on being a little healthier than last year, (especially these last couple of months) and yes, I would like to get back down to what I weighed at the beginning of last year, but that is not my goal. My goal is to live my life to the fullest, no matter what my size.

I’m going to sign off with two photos I took of Lake Pukaki. The first is of the last sunset of 2015 and the second is the first of 2016. I couldn’t get over the beauty of the sunsets up there. At first I thought it was simply because of the beauty of my surroundings, but then I realised that it was probably just because I was actually outside enjoying them rather than stuck inside cooking tea or watching the news. Anyway, I hope you find them as beautiful as I did . . .

 

 

I hope to write more blog posts this year, but I’m not promising anything. They will probably be more like this one, filled with the useless thoughts that float through my head.

I hope the new year finds you well.

Abby Wilder lettering

*I’m not sure why I still refer to fish size in imperial rather than metric. I guess something things just sound better in imperial.
6.8kg fish just doesn’t have the same appeal, does it?