September is almost over. I feel as though the month dragged on, but now that the end is just about here, I feel as though the month went by too fast.
I didn’t get as much done as I planned to this month mostly because of work, but I’m still trying to figure out ways I can still be productive without burning myself out. I’m always planning ahead.
October begins at the end of this week, which means a lot of things for some people. Autumn is officially here, Halloween is coming up, and pumpkin everything. But, if you’re a writer, you think of one thing:
NaNoWriMo prep time!
I’ve known what I wanted to write for NaNo for the past few months now. I think I decided what to write at the end of July, the last Camp NaNo session.
Last November I wrote a novel called Second Chances, which I think came out very well and I enjoyed writing it. But I probably won’t continue that novel for a while.
The year before, I didn’t write a novel at all. I wrote short stories.
This year I’ll be doing the same thing. I’m going to write my Short Story Sundays ahead of time for 2017.
My Short Story Sundays are mainly flash fiction, but some do run a bit longer. And who knows? Some stories may turn into actual shorts and some might even turn into novella or novel ideas. So some shorts I write in November may not actually appear on the blog.
Either way, I’ll be able to get new ideas out of these short stories while getting a little ahead on my blog for next year. Every little bit helps.
The reason I’m not working on a novel this year is because I already have two novels I’m currently editing. I’m hoping to spend some of my NaNo time editing at least one of those novels if it’s not too much between writing 2,000 words a day on top of my day job.
Kris and I are still trying to work at least one hour every day on one manuscript, though we’ve missed pretty much this entire month. We’re going to try again between now and the middle of October and then swap manuscripts to look at each other’s work.
Both October and November will be busy months, but I’m determined to find a rhythm that works to fitting in work, writing, editing, blogging, reading… and whatever else I do in my life.
Plus, even though November is NaNo, I only have two full weeks of work due to voting, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving. So I’ll definitely take advantage of those days and there’s always the weekends.
I just hope that I can remain focused on those ideas.
Have you started thinking about NaNoWriMo yet? Let me know in the comments!
Lucy checked the weather upon waking up that morning. It was bright and sunny already outside at six-o’clock in the morning. The summer heat was rapidly increasing as it was already almost 80-degrees. It was supposed to reach 96 within the next couple of hours with a chance of thunderstorms later on.
She didn’t mind this. Now that she was working part time at her job, she didn’t care what the weather would be like. If there was going to be a lot of rain later on, at least she would be home. Even though she would rather go swimming in her pool after work thanks to the heat, she didn’t mind the rain. She’d curl up on the couch with a book instead. The rain would be a good excuse for her to lounge around.
The rain started the moment she got home from work. First it was a light drizzle and then it got heavier as minutes past. Lucy made herself some macaroni and cheese for lunch. She stared out the window as she ate mesmerized by the drops of rain smacking against the slider glass door. She loved watching the rain drip down making streaks of water along the door. Sometimes it made little pictures, just like the clouds did. Other times it just looked like water and the door was wet.
She loved the sound of the rain as it pitter-pattered against the windows and the roof above her. She closed her eyes with a smile across her lips listening the steady beat of the rain.
Then she felt the mist.
Lucy opened her eyes and looked up above her in a slight panic. There wasn’t a leak in the roof, was there?
No, her skylights were just open.
Lucy jumped off of the couch and grabbed the pole to close the two windows. She hooked one end of the pole to the window on the ceiling and twirled the other end around as the window slowly closed. Once she couldn’t turn it anymore, she moved onto the next window.
She put the pole back up against the wall behind a cabinet and drew in a deep breath. She was so hot. The house was awfully muggy. The mist from the rain coming through the skylights actually didn’t feel so bad.
She wiped some sweat off her forehead and then glanced back over at the slider door. Lucy cracked a smile. She opened the slider and the mist from the downpour hit her through the screen door.
Without another thought, she opened the screen door and stepped out onto her deck bare-footed. The air was warm, but the rain beating against her skin was cool to the touch. She outstretched her arms and tilted her head up with her eyes squeezed shut. The rain poked at her face and arms almost like it was giving her a nice massage. She giggled.
Lucy stayed out there for only five minutes, but it felt much longer. She listened to the rain pound on her deck and felt it poking at her skin. It was refreshing, it was relaxing.
When she was finally soaked from head to toe, she decided it was time to head back inside unless she wanted to get sick.
She stepped inside her house closing and locking the slider door once more. Lucy tip-toed through the house as though that would help keep the floor dry. Though her footsteps stained the kitchen tile and rain water dripped from the ends of her hair.
Lucy made it into the bathroom and stripped down immediately. She struggled with her shirt as it stuck to her, but she managed to shimmy out of it instead of trying to pull it over her head. Then she stepped into the warm, steaming shower allowing another water massage.
The fate of the world is in the hands of one man and the covenant holds the key.
The Reverend Jotham Fletcher is in Rome to give a lecture on his PhD thesis about Simon Magus at the church where he fell to his death beside the Roman Forum. Magus was a cult leader mentioned in the Bible and his libertine sect disappeared by 400 AD.
But did it really die out?
A robed man is pushed from the belltower of the church at midnight and Jotham becomes the prime suspect. His lover Antonella, an expert on ancient documents, has a shocking secret. Rumours fly about a papyrus scroll that mentions Magus. A ruthless Catholic Brotherhood will stop at nothing in their hunt for the Simonian Sect. And a reclusive billionaire has the chance of a lifetime to get his revenge.
Jotham is kidnapped, tortured and on the run. He races from Italy to England to Sweden. But the body count continues to rise and so does the heat in this non-stop thriller that will leave you breathless.
The Magnus Covenant was an interesting read, to say the least. The religious aspect of it was a fun twist and created a whole new meaning to the usual standard murder mystery.
Jotham goes on quite the adventure as he tries to figure out what exactly is going on. In the end, you find out the reason behind everything and Jotham, despite everything he went through, realizes that he needs to stop it.
Like Jotham, I felt as though I didn’t really know what was going on in the story. There was no clear motive right off the bat. Being a mystery, that’s fine. We’re supposed to figure that out.
However, I even had a hard time following the characters. There were a lot of page breaks switching between each character’s point of view (especially in the beginning of the book), but the point of views were all third-person. So there weren’t any need for page breaks and sometimes the character switch went to a character who wasn’t part of the main cast, which confused me even more. A lot of characters were introduced at the beginning and it was hard to follow.
The book was a quick read and each chapter was about three pages long. But there were sometimes about five or six page breaks and it made the story jarring to read.
While I liked the characters, Jotham, Antonella, and even Iago at the end, I couldn’t relate to any of them. When someone died, I didn’t care. The dialogue was a bit bland at times so often I had to reread what they said because I found myself not paying attention.
Overall, the plot drew me in. I was curious about where the story was going to end up, who killed who and why. It was a unique thriller and a fun mystery to follow, but I think I would have been into it more with a different set of characters.
The Magnus Covenant by Toni Pike gets 3 out of 5 stars.
“There was a subdued round of applause. It was far too polite, as if they were not there for the lecture but for the fireworks that came afterwards.” –Toni Pike, The Magnus Covenant
About the Author:
After graduating from the University of Sydney, Toni progressed from being a veterinary surgeon to a high school teacher and then a public servant in Canberra, the capital city of Australia. Her husband Jon was in the Air Force and, while raising two beautiful children, they had several years living in England and America. Toni’s main passions are family, writing and travel – in that order.
As you know, guest bloggers appear on my site twice a month. For the months of August, September, and October, my guests will be discussing the same topic:
When and why did you begin writing?
This week we’ll learn a little bit more about Nthato Morakabi. Thanks, Nthato!
Writing: A Privilege and an Honour
I think a majority of writers start at an early age, and I am no different from the flock. The oldest piece of writing I found was in an old diary when I was between the ages of six and eight. My piece of creative writing featured my own version of the lyrics to the song La Bamba performed by Ritchie Valens in the film of the same name as the song. Something along the lines of “La la la la la Bamba I was born in Soweto.” I imagine my parents dancing to the off-tune vocals of young me while their faces wondered when the madness would stop. It didn’t. I wrote more than just lyrics and in Grade 2 (second grade), I was fast becoming an avid reader.
My reasons for writing have evolved from those formative years and has become a more refined version, something I experienced quite a couple of years ago. But initially, it was for the praise of my parents and teachers. I wrote to please others. I remember freaking out during creative writing because the story I wanted to write ended up with such a large scope it wouldn’t fit the word count, and I would whip up something quickly in the last ten minutes. At least that hasn’t changed, I still can’t keep word counts.
It was in Grade 9 when I really started writing for myself. I was so consumed by the fictional worlds that existed around me that I had to delve into them. If they weren’t big enough I created my own. I spent a lot of time in class writing my stories rather than taking notes; the only thing that helped me pass was my strong short-term memory: study the night before, go to bed, retain what I studied and write exams/tests; forget it all the moment it’s pens down. This was where I started thinking of writing as more than just a hobby; I wanted to be a writer. I had stories man. Tons of stories. I had a file where I kept all my drafts and documents and ideas; any empty notebook immediately became a story book. If I saw a blank page, I saw potential. Of course, I was also frequenting the school library, determined to read every Stephen King, Clive Barker, James Herbert, Dean Koontz and any other horror author I could find. These pulled into my writing. Anime I was watching pulled into my writing. Games I played pulled into my stories. I fell in love with Final Fantasy not only for its amazing CGI (which at that day and age was far ahead of its time) but also for its intriguing stories, characters, and villains.
I look back now and see how my education, upbringing, and circumstances have allowed me to be the writer I am today. It truly is a privilege to sit here and type this out with speedy, proficient keystrokes, to be able to string thoughts together using letters and words formed back in school when I was a young lyrical genius (sarcasm). It’s been quite a journey already and I look forward to enjoying the remaining years achieving my goal of becoming a full-time author – I’m a full-time writer by profession after all.
Nthato Morakabi is a South African author working as a Junior Technical Writer for Everlytic and a freelance writer for Gamecca Magazine. He has a total of seven published short stories, available in separate anthologies on Amazon and Chasing Dreams Publishing website. He is currently working on personal anthologies, one of which will be on Patreon.
He is a hobbyist blogger, avid reader, and aspiring digital artist.
I’ve always been the type of person to have a schedule, to get myself into a routine. I write a to-do list for the following day every night before I go to bed. I even include “shower” on those lists. Yeah, I’m that kind of person.
The summer was great. I was home alone for the majority of the day while everyone else was at work. I read, I wrote, I blogged, I swam, I played with the animals, took walks, among other things. But mostly I was able to get a lot of writing, reading, and blogging done.
I had a good rhythm going for a while. Then work started back up again.
Today is my seventh day of work, but I feel like I’ve been back for months. I still babysit every day after work as well and, on top of that, I’m still running the Sunday school program at my church.
I enjoy all three jobs, but it’s exhausting. Nine to ten hours of my day is gone as I chase preschoolers around the majority of the day only to go help a couple of elementary kids do their homework. There’s not much room for writing during those times.
Sunday mornings are blocked off because I’m at church and I do the majority of the Sunday school planning in my free time at my house during the week. Still, not much room for writing.
Before I started back to work, I attempted to create a new “schedule” for myself. I knew it was going to be a flexible one, but I thought that if I could get in just one hour a day of reading and then one hour of writing or blogging, that’d be great.
I still keep up with my routine where I write on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays and I work on my blogs on Thursdays and Fridays. Sundays are either/or, or I just take a break.
But the hour a day? It hasn’t been working so well.
By the time I get home from work, I’m utterly exhausted. It’s tough to stare at the computer screen, my hand can’t remember how to hold a pen, and my eyes suddenly drop if I try to read.
Needless to say, I’ve barely gotten any writing or blogging done since work started. If I didn’t have deadlines for my book reviews, I probably wouldn’t be reading either (and even then I missed a review this month). The only reason I’ve been keeping up with my daily blog posts is because I spent a whole day on my blogs before I started back to work and got the majority of September done.
It sucks because while I absolutely love my jobs, I don’t want to be teaching and babysitting for the rest of my life. I want my career to be writing related. I know that takes time and I’ve been working on it bit by bit, but the waiting game is hard.
I’m trying not to get discouraged, but I know what I want to do with my life. I just can’t get there yet. I’m not trying to be impatient because I know this takes time as well as a lot of hard work, determination, and dedication, but… I don’t know. This was just something I had to get off my chest, I guess.
Sorry if this post seems like such a downer. Let this be a lesson to just stay positive. Even though this post is the complete opposite of yesterday’s post.
I’ve decided to start something a little different on here.
I love music. Music is a form of creativity just like writing. So, every once in a while I’ll have a Musical Monday where I discuss a song I love and that has been inspirational to me.
This won’t be a weekly series. I can’t even promise that this will happen every month or even every other month. It’s just something special I’ll share once in a while as new, inspirational songs pop up.
Though I can tolerate some songs and artists, I’m not that into rap music. But Kris and I love watching a YouTuber named Yungtown. He talks about video games a lot and he also writes and raps his own songs, which are also about video games.
He’s probably the only rapper that I can truly tolerate and listen to all day long.
He posted a music video a little while ago featuring another great artist, Garrett Williamson.
This song is called, “I Will Make It.” It’s about being who you are, doing what you’re passionate about and what you love. Don’t worry about what other people think of you. You’re amazing and unique.
This song really speaks to me especially because of my writing. Every once in a while, I have one of those days where I don’t think I’ll be able to make it as a writer or my writing isn’t good enough or that everyone else is so much better than me, so why would anyone enjoy my writing?
There are a lot of doubts that go with pursuing a writing career (or any career, really).
I wrote my first novel in 2009 thanks to NaNoWriMo. That’ll be seven years this upcoming November. I’ve been writing original novels for a very long time. And since then, I’ve completed at least five first draft manuscripts along with various poems, short stories, and children’s picture books.
Yet, nothing is ready. I’ve queried a few pieces here and there, entered contests, and nothing has come from any of them.
It takes a lot of time, determination, and hard work. I will get my chance sooner or later. And if I don’t, I’ll keep working at it because I love writing and I love this community that my blog has built over the past few years.
This goes for all of you, too. If you haven’t made it yet, you will. All in due time.
I listen to this song every time I get down about my writing or anything else I’m trying to pursue. It speaks a lot of truth and is a great pick me up.
Below is the music video. The song ends around the 3-minute mark, even though the video itself is about six-and-a-half minutes. Below the video is the lyrics and I’ve bolded my favorite lines.
Enjoy! And I hope the song will have some meaning for you.
This goes out to the people who are thinking of giving up
Listen up each of you are sounding ridiculous Get out of the rhythm of living with doubt yes it’s difficult
We cannot allow these articulate
Visions twist what we know clear
When we hold fear, it screams loud making it delectable to listen to
Interesting isn’t it, realism is our best defense
Our foundation so we won’t get disappointed or discontent
Like what’s the point of dreaming big or even trying
You don’t who I am, they won’t care if I quit
My friends are fortunate, talented, and flourishing
I put in so much work, will I ever get my chance?
Look that path is a different one
If you walked that then that is who you’d become
Usually, an opportunity will swoop ruthlessly from our reach As a reminder to be the best you that you can be
No matter what they say I’ll still find my way
I’m gonna stand my ground
No matter what they do
I won’t let them get through Ain’t nothing bringing me down cause
I will I will I will make it today
Nothing nothing Nothing will stand in my way
I will I will make it and find the open door
With each measure and task, we develop a path
But instead of glancing ahead we’re stuck rubbernecking our past
conversate with the hatred, concentrate on complaining
Constantly complicating each thought till they’re all entangled
Creating a situation where creating becomes painful
and each operation feels like we’re creatively disabled
and we cradle impatience our priorities decompose
Aligning with complacency our anxiety grows
Redefining our soul solidifying a home
Assembled entirely out of unrecognizable stones
By and by scrutinizing our by-product thoughtfully
Stuck following unconsciously, but do you wanna be a wannabee?
When you can be the one who reaches farther than a lot of these People who only wanna piece of stardom like astrology So stop pondering your significance andpromise me you’ll stop comparing yourself especially since are unique
I stared at the cursor. Blinking. Staring back at me. Mocking me.
I drummed my fingers lightly along the surface of my keyboard. While the tapping sound was satisfying, no letters were popping up on the screen. Words were not forming, therefore paragraphs weren’t existing, and there were no other pages except the first, blank one.
The deadline was tomorrow. The clock was ticking. I sighed in frustration. My laptop hummed in laughter.
The prompt was to write about a personal experience. Something that’s a hurdle for you in your life. So, just like that, I began to write about not being about to write.
It was for a writing magazine. They would understand.