2019 Book Challenge Summary

I did it! I hit my small little goal of 12 books to read in 2019. And not only did I achieve it, I surpassed it (by one book!)

Books Read in 2019:

(All photos are my own from my Instagram @melholdenwrites)

1. Let It Snow – John Green

2. Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

3. Billy and Me – Giovanna Fletcher

4. Doctor Who’s Time Lord Fairy Tales

5. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

6. Scarlet – Marissa Meyer

7. Wilde Like Me – Louise Pentland

8. Some Kind of Wonderful – Giovanna Fletcher

9. The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan

10. Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher

11. Dolores Claiborne – Stephen King

12. The Christmasaurus – Tom Fletcher

13. The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

It’s All In The Name: Name Origins

nameberryI was scrolling through Facebook earlier today when an ancestry.com add popped up. Now, whilst I’m intrigued to find out my family history; I’m not willing to pay for it.
Instead, I found this website that tells you the meaning of your name, and when it was popular. Sounded pretty cool to me, so I checked it out. It’s called NameBerry – in case you were wondering…

So, let’s see what my name means – shall we?


Melissa is a more classic name than you might think, used in the U.S. since the eighteenth century and originating as the name of a nymph in Greek mythology: the mythical Melissa was nursemaid to the infant god Zeus.

  • Gender: F
  • Meaning of Melissa: “honeybee”
  • Origin of Melissa: Greek
  • Melissa’s Popularity in 2014: #224


Victoria is the ancient Roman goddess of victory, the equivalent of the Greek Nike, and also a popular third century saint.

  • Gender: F
  • Meaning of Victoria: “victory”
  • Origin of Victoria: Latin
  • Victoria’s Popularity in 2014: #19


Holden is a classic case of a name that jumped out of a book and onto birth certificates–though it took quite a while. Parents who loved J. D. Salinger‘s The Catcher in the Rye are flocking to the name of its hero, Holden Caulfield. 

  • Gender: M
  • Meaning of Holden: “hollow valley”
  • Origin of Holden: English
  • Holden’s Popularity in 2014: #292

So basically, I’m a Greek nursemaid – who is really a bee -, who wants to have victory over a hollow valley that is possibly full of J.D Salinger’s books. Well… you learn something new every day!

What does your name mean? Let me know in the comments! 

16 Books I Want To Read in 2016

Hey guys! I know, it’s been a while… life got in the way again. But I’m back and I’m bringing books with me for a good ol’ fashion TO READ list!

I was sitting in my room yesterday, scrolling through my Amazon Book Wish List when I (suddenly) realised that I had literally no space for the books I already owned, let alone any *inevitable* future purchases. 

SO, I’ve decided to start reading the books I already owned, and coveted for so long. This list is made of books that I waited ages to buy, but never got around to reading.

And of course, because it’s 2016: there HAD to be 16 books on my to-read list. (I’ve included some interviews, book trailers and movie trailers just to keep things interesting…) So, here goes:

16 Books in 2016

Alice In Wonderland – Lewis Carroll (that’s the one on the Kindle)

Funny Girl – Nick Hornby

A Tiny Bit Marvellous – Dawn French

All I Know Now – Carrie Hope Fletcher

BINGE! – Tyler Oakley

The Amazing Book Is Not On Fire – Dan Howell/Phil Lester

The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Billy & Me – Giavanna Fletcher

Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

The Shock of The Fall – Nathan Filer

Inkheart – Cornelia Funke

Collected Stories – Dylan Thomas

The Stand – Stephen King

All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

The Woman Who Stole My Life – Marian Keyes


Keep an eye on the tag #16BooksIn2016 on my website and Instagram for updates over the year on my reading selifes and reviews from this list! 

Why Writing A Sequel Is So Hard

I have always envied series writers for their ability to keep a story going for 2+ books without losing the will to live, or losing the plot along the way.

I tend to stick to 1-book plot lines or poetry: nice and quick with no afterthought. But now, I am writing a sequel for the first time (more in theory than in practice at the moment), I need to know the secrets!

There is so much more to consider when carrying on a novel to the next book:

  • have the characters developed?
  • is there a time lapse?
  • will it be a continuous plot?
  • are you restricted by a previous timeline?
  • is there some very specific details mentioned before that can’t be changed?
  • where is it set, and why has it / hasn’t it changed?
  • why is there a need for a sequel: what did you leave unanswered?
  • what does the reader expect to happen?
  • what do you expect to happen?

There’s a lot to consider, but there is one very important question when writing a sequel or a series: WHY?

Why are you carrying on? You’ve finished the first book – so why does there have to be more? Is something left unresolved? Did you end on a cliffhanger? Are there too many unanswered questions? 

You need to know the answers to those questions before you start writing – that’s why it’s so hard: because you’ve knowingly constricted yourself to an already established story, now you have to carry it on.

Make it a good one!

Stereotypes About Female Authors

There are several stereotypes about female writers through the years, and I thought I would get rid of a few of them for you!

female authors

We all write erotica.

Uh no. Just no. Admittedly more women do write erotica – but so what? We are lucky enough to be alive in a century where women are confident enough with there sexuality to write about it. But not all of us feel the need to share it with the world. Every writer has given the naughty writing a go, but some of us just aren’t good at putting our sexual fantasies on paper. 

We’re all emotional.

Again, some of us are – but I know dozens of female writers in my circles don’t write emotionally. Sometimes emotions just don’t factor into it. 

None of us write Sci/Fi Fantasy. 

Some of the best sci/fi I’ve read came from female writers! 

We aren’t as dedicated. 

This comes from the stereotype that women fit writing into their family lives and that our children and spouses come first. Not true – my writing comes before everything, and my loved ones understand that. Yes, some women have a lot more to juggle than male writers, but our busy lives do not factor into our dedication!

We only write romances. 

I (to date) have not written a romance novel, and I don’t intend to! It’s not my style, and it doesn’t work for my writing. This is no discredit to women who do write romances, but not all of us do and it shouldn’t be assumed so. 

We can’t write. 

This is probably the biggest and the worst stereotype! Many of the best literary figures are women: Beatrix Potter, Sylvia Plath, Alice Walker, JK Rowling, and so many more! 

Don’t let stereotypes get in the way of your dreams. 

Do you know of anymore stereotypes for women writers? Tweet me @melissaholden94

20 Years of Me

1 – long blonde hair when everyone else is bald

2 – denim dungarees as I struggle to toddle

3 – making potions in the kitchen at 5 a.m. 

4 – Troubled, hidden 

5 – Reading age of a 12-year-old

6 – Nearly drowned

7 –  The first time I ran away from home

8 – Scarred, but I have a future

9 – Uprooted, a new life

10 – Football on Fridays after school

11 – Secondary school starts, confidence leaves

12 – Friends gained

13 – The wrong crowd

14 – Hundreds of bad decisions

15 – I turned my life around, friends lost for the better

16 – Scraped through my exams

17 – Second thoughts, scary decisions

18 – Started university against all odds

19 – My career begins

20 – Who knows what my new year will bring?

FAQ’s For A Young Author

I get asked a lot of questions about my lifestyle and how I deal with the pressures of being a young author and just an author in general, so I thought I would make a list of FAQ’s and answer them for you.


Q: Is writing the only thing you do?

A: No, I have a job, as well as a full time university course. I run an online magazine chapter called CCCU Her Campus, as well as editing for Readwave. I also draw, paint and sing (although writing is definitely my strong point.)

Q: How often do you blog? Do you find it hard to keep up with regular posting?

A: I spend my downtime blogging, so it’s really second nature. I enjoy doing it – it’s not a chore for me. If I know I have a busy week ahead, I’ll schedule 10-15 posts on the weekend to sporadically publish during the week.

Q: What do your family and friends think of you being a writer?

A: Some are really encouraging and helpful, others just don’t care, and some (not many but some) don’t even know I’m a writer – let alone a self-published author. My friends and siblings are a lot more supportive than my mother – she still hasn’t finished reading my first book!

I think to my parents, I won’t be a real writer until I’ve written a trilogy and it’s in print. I will get there one day, but right now I just don’t have that kind of book in me.

Q: Do you ever think it’s just a phase?

A: Writing is an awkward pastime, because everyone thinks they can write. I think a true writer will write no matter what the world thinks of their books. And that’s me. Luckily, people think I’m good and they buy my books, but I’m not in this for the money and I never have been. I will write until I’ve no words left in me.

Q: Does writing books at such a young age conflict with your social life?

A: Yes. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. My true friends know when I need to write and when I need a break. I’m not a writer that locks themselves in for six months to write a book – I need fresh air and interaction.

My old housemate Lara was amazing – every few hours she would knock on my door with a cup of tea and see if I was okay. She would remind me to eat (I tend to forget when I’m on a roll) and she would offer to proof-read anything.

I do try to go on a night out at least once a month, otherwise I get cabin fever. Even when I go to my best friends’ house, they know I might suddenly whip out a notebook and jot something down. They’re used to it by now.

Q: Do you slip into any bad habits when writing?

A: I barely eat, I have far too much caffeine, I always look a mess and I forget how to talk. But I love it. I also forget to check my phone and end up missing “important” social things.

Q: How do you deal with the pressure?

A: If a story is getting too much for my brain that night, I’ll click save and shut it down. I’ll grab a glass of wine and switch on a movie – just let myself relax for the night. Obviously, if I’m in the middle of a sentence, this so doesn’t happen. I tend to write until the end of a paragraph, and then give up.

There is a lot more pressure on authors these days, especially tech-savvy authors like myself, because we have to be contactable and present 24/7. I have a lovely group of author friends from all over the world – they have no idea that they are IM’ing me at 5a.m and that it’s just woken me up.

Well that is it for now! I will also be posting this list as a page and updating it as and when, so if you have any questions you would like me to answer, please comment below!



Five Places I Want To Visit

A while ago, me and a friend were discussing the places we would like to visit the most. Now, I’m not very well traveled so don’t expect much. Here is my photo list of places I want to visit:

Venice, Italy.


It looks like such a beautiful place, and the culture is so different! (Also – if I go to Italy, I can visit Lara!)


Edinburgh, Scotland.


I’m actually one quarter Scottish, but I’ve never been there. So it would be interesting to see where my heritage comes from.




Just because I like saying “Cali”.


Vancourver, Canada.


I know some people that have moved out there, and they say it’s beautiful.


Berlin, Germany.


I’ve been to Koln before, but it would be nice to see a major city.