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Music Monday

Music Monday (March 2022)

The last month, I’ve been listening to this song a lot. Like, probably too much. I’m just sort of waiting for Spotify to post a message on their Twitter along the lines of: “User in the south of England who has played ‘I am a Stone’ three-hundred times the last month… Are you okay? Is the repeat button stuck?”

There is just something about this song that I really like. It’s relaxing, and I like the smooth voice of the singer.

The Not-so-Peculiar Life of Emily

My Month in Bullet Points (February 2022)

What I’ve been up to in February. In bullet points.

In February, I:

  • Watched the entire first season of Reacher on Amazon Prime. (Okay, it’s only eight episodes, so it was fairly quick…) I really enjoyed it!
  • Coughed. Still.
  • Went back to our favourite farm park hangout for the first time since before Christmas (we have an annual pass as it’s only twenty minutes away).
Hahaha her shoes are a size too big and they look massive!
  • Wrote, but never as much as I wish I could. Did hit the monthly target, at least.
  • Realised it has been one year since my grandma died (the last of my grandparents). They all hit me hard, but this one was the hardest as she was like a second mum to me. One of these days I might be able to write about it.
  • Finally saw my friends (and their little ones) for a playdate. We hadn’t met up since probably November as we’ve all had Covid or bad colds more or less consecutively (and I was away for a month). Was great seeing them. I miss adult conversations at times. (Though the amount you manage with a bunch of kids running around is… up for discussion.)
  • Received this absolutely amazing (late) Christmas present from our friends. It’s a drawing of my dog Bailey. He will be fifteen years old tomorrow, and is my old boi. ♥
My handsome boy
  • Total words written in February: 22 764

The Not-so-Peculiar Life of Emily

When It Rains, It Pours

You know that feeling when you’ve just had enough? Yes, that one. I’m having it right now.

Apparently, it wasn’t enough to get Covid or have our air fryer break. My kitchen needed to catch on fire too.

That may sound more dramatic than it probably was, but I’m still salty about the entire ordeal. First off, everyone is okay. Minus parts of our floor and stove.

Friday night, we felt lazy and had takeaway pizza. When we went to put the Tiny Tyrant down for the night (she wanted both of us in the room, so we all ended up on our bed), we left the empty boxes on the stove. We think our dog must have gone sniffing at the boxes and accidentally turned on one of the hobs…

Cue us waking up to the smoke alarm. We dash out to the kitchen and find the boxes are now on fire, with flames licking the fan above the stove. Smoke everywhere.

I’m holding a screaming, terrified Tiny Tyrant while my partner tries to get the burning boxes out of the flat. He fails to get the front door open and has to drop the boxes in the hallway. Fortunately, he managed to put the fire out before it spread but it did burn through our flooring. There are burn marks both in the hallway and kitchen.

We’ll have to replace the entire linoleum carpet in the kitchen. The hallway has slats, so at least we only have to replace the ones with the damage there, and not the entire hallway. In the end, I know I should be grateful that it wasn’t worse than it was (and I am), but I’m also tired and just wish I didn’t have to deal with this.

Our flat smelled of smoke for days. It’s a little better now, but the two areas with the burned flooring obviously still stink. I hope we can get it sorted soon as the smell gives me a headache.

Aaaanyway… How was everyone else’s weekend? Better than ours, I hope!

Main damage on the hallway floor. It just burned straight through the flooring.
Soot and burn mark in the kitchen.
The Tiny Tyrant’s favourite burn: the smirking smiley.
Music Monday

Music Monday (February 2022)

Since I watched Disney’s Encanto a few weeks ago, I cannot seem to get the songs out of my head. So lately I’ve been listening a lot to Surface Pressure (my favourite) and We Don’t Talk About Bruno. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I’d suggest giving it a try, even if just for the amazing soundtrack. The songs are written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame, and also the one who made the amazing songs from Moana), so you can pretty much be sure they will be earworms.

Surface Pressure is my absolute favourite, and anyone who has ever felt stressed out/like they are taking on too much will be able to relate to this song. It’s silly, but I swear I struggle to listen to this without getting tearful.

We Don’t Talk About Bruno isn’t quite as catchy (to me) but still an enjoyable (and kind of amusing) song.

The Not-so-Peculiar Life of Emily

My Month in Bullet Points (January 2022)

What I’ve been up to in January. In bullet points.

  • Spent the first three weeks with family. Tiny Tyrant loved seeing her cousins and picked up a fair few bad habits (I have since been called stupid). She also picked up some new songs she wants to listen to/dance to. Finding out which ones they were was not the easiest when she doesn’t know the lyrics and only makes some random noises.
  • Did not write nearly as much as I should have.
  • Did write a short story for a collaboration with a few other writers in my writing group. It will be released in a little novella for Valentine’s Day.
  • Tore my hair out as TT decided that bedtime was between 11pm and 1am every night. (This may have had a fair bit to do with why I got so little writing done – or anything else for that matter.)
  • Went to a place called Universeum where you can walk through an indoor rain forest with birds roaming free, amongst other things. TT was mostly impressed by the indoor playground in the basement, though she did also like looking at the animals and trying the experiments rooms.
  • Watched a few movies. Which is rare for me these days. Quality varied greatly. My favourite of the bunch was probably Disney’s Encanto. I also saw the more recent adaption of Jane Austen’s Emma, and it was okay but not my favourite. Started watching Jungle Cruise, but admittedly didn’t finish.
  • Got Covid. Boo!
  • Total words written for January: 13 291.
One of the residents at Universeum. Fortunately, behind glass!
The Tiny Tyrant with a somewhat larger beast.
The Not-so-Peculiar Life of Emily

Hello, Covid

After a good start to the year with being back home and seeing my family, our return to England was… less than pleasant. Two days after we got back, both I and the Tiny Tyrant tested positive for Covid. So happy new year to the Morgans household!

In the end, it’s not been too bad. Omicron definitely seems to be the milder variant so far (though I am fully aware not everyone is so lucky). TT had a high fever for a couple of days, but by day three had no fever and only an upset stomach. After that, she bounced back as if nothing had happened.

For me, I suffered a bit more, but knowing how badly hit some people have been I don’t feel I can complain. I had a terrible headache, an incredibly difficult cough and runny nose, and fatigue, but that was pretty much it. The fatigue made it difficult to do anything, and I have fallen quite far behind on writing (something I now need to catch up on). I’m definitely better now, and no longer test positive, but the cough lingers and won’t quite go away. I am still fatigued but at this point I couldn’t say whether it’s Covid or my usual CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) which I’ve had for years.

My partner fell ill a few days after us, but never suffered too badly.

On the whole, it was an unpleasant experience, but I definitely feel like we got off easy compared to some. Now I just need to catch up on all the writing and clean the house after having no energy to do anything for over a week.

Music Monday

Music Monday (January 2022)

In my effort to be more active on social media and my website, I’m starting with the year’s first Music Monday. When writing, I nearly always listen to music. In fact, I struggle to switch my brain into writing mode without it. As I started writing on the fourth Howerty novel, I had Spotify on random, and in the middle of a chapter, I reacted as I heard a familiar voice… in an unfamiliar song.

It was the voice of Tommy Körberg, a Swedish singer who has a long and impressive career in musical theatre and other singing endeavours. A national treasure, that man. If you’ve ever heard the songs of the old musical Chess, he is one of the lead singers. At his prime, his voice was absolutely amazing. (There’s a clip on YouTube of him with Celine Dion, where he surprised her with his singing chops… she thought she was just singing a duet with a random Swedish dude, and then this guy starts singing! You can see the surprise on her face.)

Anyway, I loved finding this song because Dead by April is a metal band. This particular song is a ballad, but it still amuses me that they convinced Tommy to join them (who was if not 70 at the time, at least approaching it when they recorded it).

The lyrics speak to me as well, as they feel a lot like how I see Marcus, the hero of the fourth Howerty novel, and as such, this has kind of become my anthem for that book.

What do you think?

Idle Thoughts

Happy New Year!

I know I say this e v e r y year, but… how is it 2022 already???

On 2021…

Despite the pandemic and lockdowns and whatnot, it still feels like the year has gone really fast. (While at times going incredibly slow, too… It’s a paradox.)

Like 2020, 2021 was an… interesting year. The pandemic was still going strong, and in England, we spent the first months of the year in a national lockdown. Restrictions eventually eased to allow you to meet a handful of people outdoors, then a handful of people indoors, then most restrictions ended. Then of course we got the Delta variant… and now the Omicron variant, so restrictions may return at any moment (some of them have, but no lockdowns yet).

Despite this, in the summer I managed to go see my family abroad for the first time in 20 months, which felt amazing. I had really missed them, and they had missed so much of the tiny tyrant’s life. As I’m writing this, I’m visiting them again over the Christmas period, though it was a bit touch and go for a while as they were reintroducing travel restrictions.

On Writing…

Writing went fairly well in 2021. I set myself a goal to write 240 000 words, and in the end, hit nearly 250k (248 966 to be exact). I think I would have had a little bit more if I hadn’t got sick for most of December.

I finished two novellas, one novel, and started a second novel and a third novella. (And finished up another novel that I started in December 2020, so most of it was written in 2021.)

I’d like to hit 240k again this year, but as I have a lot of revisions and editing to do, I’m not sure that will be possible.

On Goals…

I don’t like to make New Year’s Resolutions, but I will try to set myself some goals for the year. I failed on some of my goals for last year, so let’s see if I can do them this year.

  • Release first book in Howerty series (and all the things that entails)
  • Write more on the blog.
  • Be more active on social media. I will chose one or two platforms and focus on those. Instagram is a favourite of mine, but what should the second one be? A lot of people are saying TikTok is good these days because of #booktok but I don’t know if I have it in me for that one. Any suggestions?
  • Keep up with my ko-fi page.
  • Continue writing, hopefully hitting 240k again for the year.
  • Get the tiny tyrant’s room done. (Painting and some fixing of the room and setup in general).
  • Declutter our home in general.
  • More exercise and better eating. (The pandemic has not been good for my mental or physical health.)

What are your goals for 2022?

Tips

Holiday Movies

It’s that time of the year again… That time when I sit down and watch a bunch of cheesy movies with a holiday theme. Or, at least, I try to find the time to watch a few. Often I end up having one on in the background while I wrap presents or do something else. With Netflix having entered the fray, there are so many new movies every year now that I’m quite far behind. I’ve seen a few of the Netflix movies: A Christmas Prince, The Knight Before Christmas, Operation Christmas Drop, The Princess Switch, Christmas Inheritance, and a few more.

I did see the one this year with Brooke Shields and Cary Elves; A Castle for Christmas. It was average at best if I’m honest. Maybe it’s because I’m a romance writer, but I felt like they could have worked a little more romance in there. I wanted more romantic scenes!

Anyway, the whole point of this post was to give you a little list of some of my favourite holiday movies! So, without further ado…

1. Klaus

This animated movie is on Netflix and going into it I wasn’t sure what to expect, but you know what? It’s a beautiful movie. The animation style is original and the story is both amusing and sweet (and a little bit sad).

2. Elf

I know this movie has been out for ages, and it’s silly. But you know what, it’s just the right amount of silly for me. It doesn’t take itself too seriously (and you shouldn’t either) but still has a heart-warming message in between the goofiness.

3. Bad Santa

Another old classic. This dark comedy is exactly my type of humour. Never watched the sequel, and I probably never will, but this one is great fun. (I admittedly haven’t seen it for years now, so I’m a bit worried it won’t live up to my memories of it.)

4. the Holiday

As I’m writing this list, I’m coming to realise I tend to stick to the same old movies. But, come on, these are definitely the better ones, right? The Holiday with the two women who trade houses for Christmas and find themselves–and love–is sweet.

5. Die Hard

My partner and I rewatch this movie every year on Christmas Day. It’s tradition. (Imagine saying ‘tradition’ with that extra bit of emphasis like my partner always does. He likes to claim ‘tradition’ on anything he wants to do again–or doesn’t want to do if it’s suddenly ‘tradition’ that I do it.) It sort of happens at Christmas though. There are decorations and a Santa hat. And machine gunfire. I’ll take it.

What are your go-to Holiday movies?

Idle Thoughts

The World’s Longest Writer’s Block

Once upon a time… I had the world’s longest writer’s block. As a child and teenager, I wrote a lot. So many (crappy) stories in so many notebooks. Then I paused as I got busy moving to another country and starting my career. After a little while, I started again. More seriously this time, and I wrote two novels.

I started my third and… I stalled. Not just a little bit, but I couldn’t seem to find the words to write at all. I wrote fourteen different drafts of the first chapter, and none of them worked for me. Nothing else came to me either. I was a writer without words.

Around the same time, and quite possibly related, I had a massive burnout and suffered from my first depression. I had time off my job in a UN Organisation, and once I realised I wasn’t getting better any time soon, I made the difficult decision to resign and move back to my home country. I definitely didn’t feel great.

Eventually, after many tests and meetings, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. While it didn’t fix me, knowing why I felt the way I did, helped. But I still couldn’t write. I couldn’t even read more than a few pages without needing a nap. Brain fog was a thing.

A few years in, I played the game Dragon Age, and for the first time in ages, I felt inspired. I started a fanfiction story. Then another. I didn’t finish either of them but just writing–no matter how little, felt amazing. I moved countries again, and writing fell to the wayside as I started working full-time again for the first time in ten years (I had only managed part-time up until that point since I was diagnosed). With limited energy, I could only do one thing; work or enjoy life in my spare time. I worked and did little but sleep once I was home.

Then I had a child. A little tiny tyrant who never slept. (Her sleep still isn’t good, but at least it’s better than it was.) In early 2020 I heard about Wattpad, a writing platform where writers could put their stories and hopefully find readers who liked it. Finally having the odd evening here and there free (or semi-free), I decided it was time to get back to writing. I always missed it and it has always been something I’d like to be doing professionally.

So I signed up to Wattpad.

I released my first few chapters to crickets. Then I joined a writing group on the forums (that have since been removed), and I met like-minded writers. It was probably the best thing I could ever have done. Not only did some of them read my story, but we clicked really well and we’re all still in contact on Discord where we have a server.

Since those early days in 2020, I’ve written consistently. I finished the first round of revisions on the two novels from back in the day, and I’ve written one novel and four novellas. I’m currently working on my fourth novel.

If it wasn’t for Wattpad and the group of amazing writers I met through it, I don’t know that I would have broken my writer’s block. I’m so grateful to them. They’re an amazing bunch of people.

So, how long was my writer’s block? If I ignore the random bits of fanfiction (which was rare with long times between updates), the time between finishing my second novel and when I started writing on Wattpad was… 13 years.

Yes, you read that right. I had writer’s block for 13 years. Hopefully, that’s enough to fulfil my quota for a lifetime and I will never suffer from it again!

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? How did you get past it?