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The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo – by Alexandre Dumas

the count of monte cristo

I’ve just read the brilliant The Count of Monte Cristo and thought it was absolutely fantastic. It has quickly become one of my favourite books. It has been quite a while since I’ve really liked a book that I’ve read – most of the books that I’ve read recently may have been good but not on par with The Count of Monte Cristo.

Here are some quotes from that book:

“All human wisdom is contained in these two words – Wait and Hope”

“When you compare the sorrows of real life to the pleasures of the imaginary one, you will never want to live again, only to dream forever.”

“I have always had more dread of a pen, a bottle of ink, and a sheet of paper than of a sword or pistol.”

“Those born to wealth, and who have the means of gratifying every wish, know not what is the real happiness of life, just as those who have been tossed on the stormy waters of the ocean on a few frail planks can alone realize the blessings of fair weather.”

“…The friends we have lost do not repose under the ground…they are buried deep in our hearts. It has been thus ordained that they may always accompany us…”

“Hatred is blind; rage carries you away; and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught.”

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What I’ve Noticed About Me and My Blog

about me

I’ve noticed that I tend to keep myself in my blogs, they tend to be personal. They tend to be about me. There’s lots of ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘my’.

But I guess it’s because when it comes to writing blogs – especially writing blogs about writing – I’m not ‘experienced’ enough to dictate what aspiring writers or published writers should be doing, or giving advice about writing and publishing in general. I can only say what works for me. I keep it about me, and tell you about what’s worked for me rather than come across as preachy.

So that’s why there’s so much about me in my blogs; or at least about my blogs about writing.

— Just something that I’ve noticed as I look back through my previous blog posts.

— That it’s all about me!!!


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I like to plan; I’m a planner; I like to know what I’m doing when. But even my broad plans don’t always go to plan.

Looking back at a long term plan, I’m pretty sure that I’d planned – and hoped – that my current project would be ready for self-publication; or at least that I’d be at the promotion stage.

Well I’m still only at the editing stage,

Perhaps I was too optimistic in what I could accomplish by the end of the year, perhaps I didn’t factor that life does and can get in the way of my plans.

But I’d rather be optimistic than pessimistic. I may not always be able to stick to my tight deadlines that I set myself but at least it gives me the drive to do so. It gives me something to aim for, to push for. And I’ve mentioned this before in previous blogs if I didn’t plan – even just a little bit – I wouldn’t be able to focus as well. I’m that sort of person who has to know all the elements of the plan. I do wish I could be more spontaneous and not worry so much about whether or not I’ve got my ‘plan’ before sitting down to write or edit.

Now, I’ve told myself that the best thing I can do, to create a more reliable plan, is to only plan for the next three months. I’ll have more of an idea what can be accomplished in that space of time and I’ll have a better idea of what life may throw at me. I’ll still of course have one or two overarching plans that’ll last for longer than that.

I usually keep my plans to myself, but I thought if I told people, if I wrote it down here, it may help me stick to it better…maybe…


My plans:

up to Christmas: Finish the first edit of my current (non-fiction) project; re-read and write my conclusion

January to March: Finish editing (the second, third…..edit)

Long term 2016 plan: self-publish my current project; start next fiction project (this probably will be the initial research and brainstorming stage)

There. I’ve said it now. Let see if things go as planned.

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Nom de Plume


Pen names:

An author uses a pen name for various reasons, to hide their gender, to make their name more distinctive, if they write different genres and want to distance them from previous works and for many other reasons.

A pen name can be a version of your actual name.

But how do you decide to use a nom de plume? If you feel it’ll work best for you go for it.

How do decide what name to use?

My options (using my real name) are:

Louise Miller

L. M. H. Miller

Louise M H Miller

Louise M Miller

Louise H Miller

L Miller

L M Miller

L H Miller

And that’s just variants of my name not even using a different name(s) completely.

There’s numerous websites to help you choose a pen name if that’s what you’re looking for. Just a quick Google search for ‘pen name generator’ brings up lots of options.

Here are some General Name ideas for me from one website after inputting a few answers:

(I don’t honestly think I’ll be using any of these – but it’s a bit of fun)

Sam Roehampton
L. A. Millard
Louise A. Milan
Lazarus Middleton
Sam Alexs
Lorraine Milbert
Lawrence A. Roehampton
Lora Louson

The majority of the other websites simply gives you a name.

Do you use one of these websites or generate one yourself? Using these generators can be useful in giving you a head start, a prompt, to pick a pen name.

Do you use your real name or a nom de plume?

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How do you get inspired?


Inspiration for writers is a integral part of writing. Whether it’s inspiration for the next new project or inspiration to keep writing day after day.

I knew someone who stuck up inspirational quotes over their work space, this doesn’t work for me.

I’m my own worst critic. I tend to be pretty hard on myself, but only for a few seconds. I think about all the things that I haven’t achieved yet, or that project that I haven’t finished yet, and I know I can do it – it’s almost like I motivate myself through my own guilt. More so, because I know I can do it, I tell myself that all the time. The inspiration comes from me being hard on myself as to why I haven’t done so yet. I find the drive from all the ambitions that I have bottled up in me; I want this.

But when my project is stalling, as projects often do, I tell myself that I’ve not done enough, that I can do more, and be better. I guilt myself into inspiration.

This may seem like a negative way of finding inspiration, but it works for me. I’m my own worst enemy and I’m ok with that, it sees me achieve what I set out to achieve. We each have our own way of motivating, inspiring and pushing ourselves; what’s yours?


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30 things to do before I’m 30 – an update

Last week it was my birthday so it’s time to review my 30 Things to Do Before I’m 30 list.


  1. Be a step (have deposit ready) closer to owning my own home

This one is on-going as we try to save as much as we can. We think we’re almost there and hopefully next year we should be able to start looking around for houses and mortages.

3. Go to a restaurant on my own

The only rule was that it has to be table serve. Now it’s done. I went after the gym while my partner was away at a Conference. I even kept the receipt. I didn’t feel too strange eating on my own. i tried not to look at my phone, I didn’t take a book. I just enjoyed eating on my own.

7. Travel to Cornwall/South Coast

Last July (2015) we travelled to Torquay and visited the area and neighouring Paignton. We were only there for a few days so we had to squeeze a lot of sightseeing in in just a few days. We were tired but it was worth it.

10.  Be a step closer to getting married – no pressure Andrew       Place a bet

I’ve changed this one, as it’s out of my hands. I’m hopeful it will come at some point in the future, but not necessarily before I turn 30. Ironically perhaps I changed it with ‘to place a bet’. Sure I’ve bought a lottery ticket, but I’ve never placed a bet. The plan is to place a bet at the end of this month on the Rugby World Cup Final.

14. Watch more classic movies

Again like number one this is an ongoing one. I have no specific number of classic movies that I will watch, just simply more. I’ll post a full list when I turn 30, but some from this past year include Stand by MeBreakfast at Tiffany’sRaging BullClose Encounters of the Third Kind, and Vertigo, to mention just a few.

18. Do a walking challenge      Stay in a 5* Hotel

I realised that this one is pretty superfluous as I’ve already done plenty of walking challenges, but I decided to swap it with a luxury one of staying in a 5* hotel – because I’ve never done that.

      22. Do 30 days of something

For this you may remember that my task that I set myself was to take a different photo everyday.

      23. Go camping

I went camping with my family in August to a campsite just outside Masham in North Yorkshire. I have already gone camping loads of times but that was when I was a child and when I did Duke of Edinburgh, so I have no real memories of going camping leisurely.

While I’ve done a few of my 30 things, some were completed at the end of 2014, looking at them again and re-evaluating them I realise that I’m behind on them and need to get down to business and get more done if I want to complete them!

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Samuel Johnson Prize shortlist announced

So the Samuel Johnson Prize shortlist for 2015 has been announced. Let’s hope that the winner of the £20,000 prize this year is better than last years.


Readers may remember a blog post from February this year after I read the 2014 winner of this notable prize, H is for Hawkwhere I admit that I wasn’t a fan. Other people were, obviously.

I’m only hoping that this years nominations are better than H is for Hawk. In my view they couldn’t be much worse. I was disappointed with H is for Hawk in part because it promised to be so much, I expected so much more from a ‘prize winning’ book. Obviously, in this case for me, winning a prestigious prize such as this does not guarantee that the book in question is any good. But it should, to win a prize such as this it really should. I don’t know what the panel of judges look at when considering the winner – or the shortlist – but H is for Hawk shouldn’t have been there. (H is for Hawk also won the prize of Costa Book of the Year!?!?!)

Saying that, good luck to the short list nominees for 2015:

  • Jonathan Bate, Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life
  • Robert Macfarlane, Landmarks
  • Laurence Scott, The Four-Dimensional Human
  • Steve Silberman, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently
  • Emma Sky, The Unravelling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq
  • Samanth Subramanian, This Divided Island

The winner will be announced on 2 November.


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