How to prepare for NaNoWriMo? #amwriting

What is NaNoWriMo?

It stands for National Novel Writing Month. The event started with a November challenge to write 50k words in 30 days.

Now, the event runs on other months of the year and you can set different word count goals.

How to get started

Firstly, you will need to create an account on NaNoWriMo. Here you can record your progress and if you complete the challenge you get a certificate. There are also other benefits (keep reading to find out more).

One benefit are the free participant images that you can use to show you are taking part on social media.

Story idea

It’s best to have an idea of what story you will be working on before you start. Coming up with ideas is never a problem for me. Staying focussed on one is where I struggle – I’m confident NaNo will help fix that.

I asked Instagram and Twitter which project they thought I should work on as I was couldn’t decide.

Set it in stone

Update your NaNo account with details about the project you have chosen.

Write a blurb (the text on the back of a book) and, if you have already started the project, include a sample (I.e. first chapter). You can update this at any point during/after the challenge.

I like to use Canva to quickly make a simple book cover image. It’s also great for making social media pictures.

Outline

NaNo can be intense and it can really help if you know where your story is going. An outline is a brief overall plot for your story and helps you stay on track. It can also be useful at the end for writing your synopsis.

I shall be using the snowflake tool in Wavemaker to do this.

Character Development

It can help to know who your main characters are and their names. Especially, if like me, naming your characters takes time.

Click here for my article on naming characters.

World Building

Wherever your story is set there will be an element of world building. You need to consider where they live, the type of homes and people, jobs, education and how it is run.

If you are creating a new world then this will need more thought as you will need to consider everything from species to habitats and vegetation.

My story is set in a post-apocalyptic environment and therefore needs a lot of world building as the nature of our current state has changed drastically.

The setting of your story can be as vivid and diverse as any character. Places have history and can change a lot over time.

Software

By signing up on NaNo you will gain access to some great deals just for writers and some of these are for writing software.

This year, I have chosen to use Dabble Writer again as I love how easy it is to use and it keeps track of my word count so updating NaNo is a breeze.

Click here for my review of this product. I’ll review it again at the end of NaNo as I understand it’s even better now. It is free to trial during November for NaNo!

Writing Buddies/Camp NaNo

Sometimes they run a There are online camps for NaNo participants. It will group you with people that have similar goals or projects. Then you keep each other motivated as the challenge isn’t easy. I loved this during the July challenge but sadly it looks as if camp is running for November.

If you get a group that’s not very active, share how you are doing on social media. Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely business. Connect. Other writers are out there and want to see you succeed. You can do it.

Write

The charm of NaNo is that it gets you in the habit of writing. Try to write every day. Every bit you do is progress.

If you don’t hit your goal, keep writing. If you only achieve 20k, that’s still 20k more than when you started. Don’t quit. Writers don’t quit.

November is notoriously a busy month for me and if it wasn’t for NaNo I’d likely not get any writing done. I never shy away from the challenge and one year I will achieve… maybe, this year.

Good luck

Let me know if you are taking the challenge and wish to be NaNo buddies.

Links to articles regarding my previous attempt are:

  If you want know how I got on read my NaNoWriMo diary entries for Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four or NaNo Done.

if_twitter-01-01_3066980  if_instagram-01-01_3066990  if_youtube-01-01_3066976  if_g-01-01_3066962

Ally plus text

Eco Beauty Products to get you in the mood for Halloween

I love makeup and could spend a small fortune if I had money to burn. Here are some beauty products I am lusting after that have a Halloween vibe:

Lily Lolo

I’ve lusted after Lily Lolo’s black mineral eye shadow called WitchyPoo for years but never got around to buying it. With a name like that, it has to be the Halloween feels winner! RRP £6.50

This natural beauty brand is proud to be chemical free and cruelty free.

Medusa makeup

I love their Witch Lash mascara, RRP $12.00, but if you look through their site you’ll find plenty of Halloween theme names for their products, like Kiss Me Deadly lip gloss or Blue Moon lipstick.

This brand with it’s bold colours is vegan and cruelty free.

Vapour Beauty

The highlighters have a Halloween feel to their names like Halo or best of all Trick Stick. RRP $20.00. I already love their Atmosphere foundation and Illusionist concealer.

This brand delivers high performance and quality organic products.

Jane Iredale

I choose this one not for the products name but for what it does. Just Kissed – Lip and Cheek Stain comes in three shades. This lip stain magically transform into a unique shade just for you (without harmful chemicals). Choose pink, peach or red.

This brand is clean, green and cruelty free organic brand.

My Halloween makeup

I think together they’d make a great evening look. Perhaps, by next year, I’ll have bought it and be in a position where I am confident to leave the little ones with a baby sitter and go out for the night.

Have you seen any make up with a Halloween vibe?

  if_twitter-01-01_3066980  if_instagram-01-01_3066990  if_youtube-01-01_3066976  if_g-01-01_3066962

Ally plus text

Natural Deodorants that work!

Going green, I was reluctant to try natural deodorants for fear that they might not work.  But, I didn’t need to worry as there are some great alternatives to the chemical ridden formulas.

If you want to smell fresh without compromising your health, check out these natural deodorants:

Salt of the Earth deodorant spray

If you would prefer a spray deodorant, I personally love Salt of the Earth.  I like the handy travel size bottle for my handbag (and a great way to test the product).  I also really like the pink one (Lavender & Vanilla) and the turquoise one (Melon & Cucumber).

When you first spray it, it feels different to mainstream deodorants that tend to coat your armpit in a thick white powder.  This spray is wet.  It doesn’t take long to dry and it keeps me fresh all day without any harmful ingredients.  As you can see it made it into my hospital bag (click here to see what else I packed).

To be more green, you can buy refills for the deodorant and save money – I’ve not done this yet.  I love that they’ve thought about how to reduce waste with their product too.

img_9905

Pacifica Underarm Deodorant Wipes

I bought the  Under Arm Deodorant Wipes (see picture above) for my hospital bag.  I thought they would enable me to freshen up if I didn’t have access to a bath/shower during my stay. However, I was in and out of the hospital within a few hours of birth (click here for my labour story).

However, after arriving home, I hit a spell where my little one was very fussy and very difficult to put down. I found I couldn’t get even five minutes to jump in the shower.  The deodorant wipes gave me a chance to freshen up first thing so I could leave having a shower until later when she was more settled.

Funkless Deodorant

Grumpy Skin is one of my favourite bloggers as she is so honest when she reviews products.  Below is a link to her article on how she got on using Funkless Deodorant.  I think you will enjoy how she tells it like it is.

Check out the link below to find out if this product was a winner or a loser… and subscribe to her blog for more frank reviews.

You know the no plastic kick is getting serious when I start buying deodorant that comes in a glass jar. I’m no stranger to ~natural~ deodorants. I jumped on the no aluminum train about ten years ago when I started using the crystal. Now I think that the aluminum fears have pretty shaky evidence. Which […]

via Funkless Deodorant Tangerine & Lime Review — Grumpy Skin

What natural deodorants have you tried and did they work for you?

if_twitter-01-01_3066980  if_instagram-01-01_3066990  if_youtube-01-01_3066976  if_g-01-01_3066962

Ally plus text

#PitMad

What is #PitMad?

Last month I did #PitMad. This Twitter event is where writers tweet a pitch for their book. Interested editors/agents like the tweet to request a submission. Writers then check the submission guidelines and submit if they are interested.Twitters can support writers by retweeting the pitch – but must not like (only agents/editors can like).

The event took place on 6 Sept. Pitches must fit in one tweet and be for a complete and polished manuscript. You can tweet three times for each novel within the 24h period. The tweet can be the same pitch or different. You can pitch more than one novel during the event.

There were loads of amazing pitches. I easily could have given into the voices of doubt in my head and been intimidated. But, if I don’t try new things, I’ll never learn. If I shy away from putting myself out there then I’ll never achieve my dream of being published. It was scary but I’m pleased I did it.

I only joined the event during the final hours. If I were to participate again in future, I’d spread my three tweets out throughout the day.

I noticed many writers compared their book to two titles already in the market. I’ve never done this so it might be good for future thought.

Request

I did get a like! Getting a like was very exciting, I felt as if I had finally made it and my husband had to remind me that although they’ve requested I submit, it doesn’t mean they will sign me.

In fact, turns out, just because they requested my manuscript doesn’t mean I have to submit to them. After looking at their website, I choose not to submit…

Why? The publisher is a new print launching in the Fall. That’s not a problem. Their website was incomplete and their facebook page had only been active for three weeks. I could have ignored all this if I could find out about the agents background in publishing but there is nothing. No history.

My heart sank as I realised, this might not be the big break I had thought it was. I’ll keep my eye on Burchette and Ferguson but until I know more about who is behind the company and what they can offer me, I will leave it for now.

The future

The next #PitMad is on 6 Dec and I’d love to hear your tips so I am better prepared next time. Have you done #PitMad? Can I see your pitch? How do you decide what book is most like yours? Do you think I was right to ignore my request?

I’d like to do more Twitter events. I wish there was somewhere I could go to find out about events taking place. Do you know of such a place?

  if_twitter-01-01_3066980  if_instagram-01-01_3066990  if_youtube-01-01_3066976  if_g-01-01_3066962

Ally plus text

Why subscribe to The Pip Box (cruelty free beauty)!

I’ve had a total of 10 The Pip Boxes!  At the end of this blog, you will see links to reviews and first impressions of the content.  Each month you are guaranteed 5 full size products from cruelty free brands.

You would be surprised the number of brands that mislead consumers into believing they are cruelty free and are not.  I was heartbroken when I discovered that my makeup bag was full of products by brands that invest in testing on animals.  I had to replace key items and it wasn’t easy.

Once, I started thinking more about the products I was using, I also started taking an interest in organic products, natural ingredients and being chemical free – but that’s another post.  

Leaping Bunny

Cruelty free brands may have a leaping bunny on their product, however, some brands, will posts a ‘rabbit’ style logo next to the ingredients to make it look cruelty free when actually they are not.  If it’s not the trademark leaping bunny, it might not be bunny friendly!

Animal testing by law

Another thing brands do is give a statement like “Our products are cruelty free and never tested on animals, unless required by law.”  This basically means, they do test their products on animals as they are selling in a country that requires them to by law.  China has a law requiring products to be tested on animals before they can be sold, therefore, if a brand is selling in China, they are selling out on being cruelty free.  A lot of well known high street and designer brands are guilty of this.

Parent company ethics

Some cruelty free brands, have parent companies that are not cruelty free.  If you are against animal testing, you are likely to not want to fund a company that is profiting a company that tests on animals.  Sometimes, small cruelty free brands will get bought out to expand their business but at the cost of their ethics.

Why get a The Pip Box subscription?

The Pip Box will only send you products by cruelty free brands – these companies need to be fully compliant in that.  Many popular beauty subscription boxes will include brands that are not cruelty free so if this is something you feel strongly about, cancel those subscriptions and subscribe to pip.

Click here to subscribe.

If you are ethics are not enough, here are some more reasons:

  • Donation to charity – 50p from each box goes to an animal friendly charity
  • Reward points – each subscription or referral earns you reward points which can be traded in for money off your next box
  • And, discovering new and established brands.

Here are the highlights:

Here are links to my first impressions and reviews of The Pip Box when I was a subscriber. I’ve also tried really hard to choose a favourite product each month.

My last Pip Box – July (review published 13 September 2018) 

img_9887

Review:  The Pip Box – July (review published 2 August 2018)

Most of the items in this box are still waiting to be used (false lashes, tan accelerator, makeup eraser) but I did like the eye pencil by La Ritzy which after a long time not wearing eyeliner it really made an impact.  I didn’t get on with the BB powder which was too dark for me.

Review:  The Pip Box – June (review published 29 June 2018)

I loved the toner by Dermadeli and used it up before the end of the month.  The travel size was small enough to fit in my purse and during the heat wave (and being heavily pregnant), I used it to freshen up and it felt so good.  I also was a fan of the bonus gift – all natural chewing gum by Chewsy.  Bonus gifts are added into boxes in addition to the five items promised.

Review:  The Pip Box – May (review published 1 June 2018)

The Spring edit was probably my least favourite as I was so excited about the nail kit but just didn’t get on with it.  However, I did love the Bloomtown Botanical infused oil. I use it as a perfume and find it very calming.

Review:  The Pip Box – April (review published 4 May 2018)

Again, I loved all the products in this edit but the item that truly stood out was the hand moisturizer by Balade En Provence which came in a pretty apple shaped pot.  It is actually in my daughter’s nursery as I think it looks so pretty.  I’m planning on buying it for my son’s teacher at the end of the school year.

Review:  The Pip Box -March (review published 6 April 2018)

For this month’s edit, I love the Dr Botanicals Tropical Invigorating Cream.  This cream not only smelt lush but also came in a truly beautiful tube.  I was also really pleased with the other products and began wearing the lipstick every day.   It also got me to try a foot balm stick which I never would have thought of buying but really loved.

Review: The Pip Box – February (review published 5 March 2018)

Oh my, I still crave JOM Organic candy today.  This stuff was lovely and I almost bought a box full when I was pregnant.  It is tricky to buy in the UK unless you want to buy in bulk which is why I’ve not bought this again (yet).  I loved all the products in this box.

Review:  What’s in my Pip Box – January (review published 4 February 2018)

It has to be Medusa’s Make-up mascara that I loved, however, it isn’t an easy brand to buy in the UK.  I loved almost everything in this box – I just wasn’t keen on the body scrub but I’ve never been a major fan of scrubs.

Review:  December’s Pip Box (review published 1 January 2018) 

It’s hard to choose my as I used them all up… except the vegan chocolate.  The Bloomtown lip balm gave a gorgeous red tint and was very hydrating.  I also used the face steam by Freyaluna when I had a cold and it made me feel so much better – I need to repurchase this before flu season hits.

The Pip Box (review published 8 March 2017)

This was my first box and included a green clay mask by one of my top brand’s Akamuti.  I now often buy their body oils too.  I also really liked all the other products in my box and can honestly say there wasn’t one that didn’t get used up.

My Myth of Mermaids and Poem – Siren’s Song

B.Forrester is author of The Kingston Chronicles an urban fantasy novel.  She believes in magic and mythical beings and often blogs about writing, her projects and poetry.

If you follow my blog you will know that my debut novel (looking for representation) is about a teenager discovering she is a mermaid.  I think I have always had a personal love with mermaids ever since going to the cinema and seeing Disney’s Ariel.  I was also a water baby, swimming independently from a young age.

When I saw B had written an article on mermaids, I had to read it.  I wasn’t disappointed.  She has clearly been reading up on the history of mermaids and her article is on Greek Mythology (and includes her poem Siren’s Song).  Perhaps this is a teaser of what might be coming in her next published release…

Please click here to view B’s article:  My Myth of Mermaids and Poem – Siren’s Song

Do you want to be featured?

I am always looking for suitable articles to share with my readers.  Please check out my post about what I look for and feel free to comment and encourage me to check out your content.

img_9774

  if_twitter-01-01_3066980  if_instagram-01-01_3066990  if_youtube-01-01_3066976  if_g-01-01_3066962

Ally plus text

How to choose your child’s school

This time, last year, I was struggling with the decision of which school to send my son. The decision felt colossal as this choice would set the foundation of his education. As my first child, he also was setting the path for any future children (I wasn’t pregnant at the time). Choosing was very over whelming and I felt stressed by the pressure.

Here is how I made my three choices for the application.

Location

Make a list of the primary schools nearby. Have a look at where they are located and decide if they are easy for you to get to as the school run will be twice a day.

You may choose to apply for a school close to your place of work or near friends/family whom will be primarily doing the school run (I.e. if you have support from a grandparent).

Performance

Check the league tables. Every year (around January) they publish how students at the school are performing and schools in the country are ranked. This can give you an idea of whether teaching is effective.

However, remember that parents positive involvement will enhance their child’s learning and you can get a year group of very bright students. A school can change drastically by a change of head or boost of funding. Use this data to get an idea of whether the school are getting results from children but bear in mind that it can change.

Ofsted

Read the Ofsted report. This will give you insight into how the school is run. Again, take care to make your own judgement as to whether you agree with the grade given.

One local school was performing in the top 100 in the country but despite their results, Ofsted didn’t like how it was run and scored then as needing to improve.

Also, the feedback from Ofsted will prompt the school to make improvements so the school may already be in a better position than when they were inspected.

Tour

Once you have a shortlist, contact the schools to arrange a visit. Don’t leave this too late as many schools set dates aside and if you cannot make it (or leave it too late) then you won’t be able to visit.

I found the tour the most valuable data in making my decision. One school told me the dates after they had passed so I felt they were disorganised. Another school, I couldn’t get through to on the phone, so, I decided they would be difficult to contact if I had a problem.

The tours enabled me to see the culture of the school and establish if I felt it was right for my child.

The school that won me over wasn’t the best performing in my short list but I got a really positive vibe and decided to trust my gut. I was right to do so because when the new performance table was released, it was top out of all the schools in my short list!

Friends

If your child has made good friends already, you may wish to find out where they are going and consider the same school. However, lots of children start school not knowing anyone and make friends quickly. Knowing other children going can make the transition easier as they know some people to play with but don’t worry if you choose a school and don’t know any other children going.

Word of mouth

Ask around to find out other people’s views or experience of the local schools. Use social media and ask for an opinion on your local Facebook group. This is like checking reviews before buying a product and will give you valuable insight from other parents perspectives.

Making the Application

When making your application, you get three choices. You rank these in order of preference.

You don’t have to give three choices. However, although the council will try to meet your request where possible, if they cannot offer your first choice then they’ll consider you second choice and so on. When they run out of your choices, they will select a school for you – usually the school closest to you home with a place.

Places are allocated firstly to children with additional needs (or in care), then siblings of children from the school, then by catchment, then in order of distance as the crow flies.

All my choices were out of catchment so I did use all my options and gave a reason why I had chosen the school and felt it was most suitable to my son. I gave three options as I really didn’t want the council choosing my son’s school.

The Result

I was fortunate enough to get my first choice and my son has settled in well. He’s making friends and the other parents are really friendly and welcoming. I couldn’t be happier.

I challenge you #Spooktober

Usually, I feature articles on Monday but for Halloween, I would like to feature spooky stories and poems or anything Halloween themed.

The content can be any genre but ideally not too long (2k max).  You could provide a sample to a longer piece (i.e. a novel).  I will feature a selection of my favourites between midnight on 30 October 2018 midnight and 31 October 2018 midnight GMT.

To take part, all you need to do is add the hashtag #Spooktober and comment on my post to help me find you.

  • You can also post on Instagram and tag me @Redfae
  • You can also Tweet on Twitter, and tag me @Fae7

Ideally, submit earlier to allow me time to see your entry but I’ll keep my eyes open until 30 October 2018.

This is the first time I’ve tried something like this and hope lots of people will take part and find it fun.  Please feel free to share this post and spread the word.  

I look forward to seeing your inner horror writer.  

if_twitter-01-01_3066980  if_instagram-01-01_3066990  if_youtube-01-01_3066976  if_g-01-01_3066962

Ally plus text