Category Archives: My Writing


Currently reading: Dreams of Gods and Monsters – Laini Taylor

I’ve been reorganising the site a little. And a new tab up there at the top is a list of all the books I own that I’ve not yet read. I’m trying to get through some backlog before buying more. Ha. I already have my beady eyes on a few little things… So far, though, I have resisted. But my birthday is coming up… hint… hint? I’ll be crossing books off as I read them, and if I post reviews I’ll link them there. I won’t review all of them, but no doubt there will be some I can’t help blabbering about. I’ll try to do a ‘currently reading’ at the top of blog posts if I remember.

My current read will be getting a review. No question. I stared at the shelves when I got home from work last night and didn’t really feel like reading anything (gasp!) so it was sort of grudgingly that I picked up DOGAM. Don’t get me wrong, I was aching to read it, and it is surpassing my wildest dreams so far, but I just didn’t feel up to engaging with any text yesterday. I was two hundred pages in before I realised it had happened. So now I’m back at work and itching to get home because I want so much to do all the reading. All together now… #What a difference a day makes… Twenty-four little hours….

Otherwise, I’ve given myself a new deadline. Scary. I’m going on holiday with some girls from uni at the end of July, and I’m going to try to get the Once Bitten draft done, and a little tidied before I go. So they can read it. I’m not talking super-edited. But readable. They were there when it was begun. They’re in it (currently, but likely to face the chop as there’s too much beginning to the story) and they have been waiting six years to see how it ends. *shrug* So that’s a thing. Then I can get back to the slightly more grown-up projects. Like the steampunk vampire murder… um… or the sci-fi interdimensional bubbles thing… um… oh crap and the fey folk thing… *sigh* Get in line, already!

Finally, Katie Cross has been in touch that the ARCs for Mildred’s Resistance are starting to come through, so I’ll be hopping up and down by the letterbox in a couple of weeks waiting for that. And then the full third book The High Priest’s Daughter to follow in the autumn!! I am one lucky lady. If you don’t know why that’s exciting, take a look at Miss Mabel’s School for Girls and you’ll see what I mean.

And just to get you grooving, a bit of Wednesday on a Wednesday.

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It’s another glorious Saturday afternoon after a week of downpours, stormy rumblings, and muggy greyness. Rivka, Ivory and I have been out sunning ourselves with a pot of tea and some cake, and have returned in good spirits and ready to tackle the Saturday Night portion of the weekend.

Last weekend, Rivka bought a Game of Thrones 1-3 box set and we have been working our way through season one. I have seen season one already, but Rivka and Ivory haven’t (too busy writing!) so it’s nice to see them getting their teeth into it. We’ve all read the books (hahaha, a massive fantasy series we’ve not read between us?! Challenge accepted.) so the plot isn’t a surprise, but it’s quite fun, knowing what is coming, to go back to the beginning. Deaths so far have been minimal and boobs gratuitous.

I have not yet read A Dance With Dragons, so I’m not 100% up to date, but that’s only because I wanted to re-read the others first. The trouble is, I swept through one two and three (parts one and two) that by the time I got to A Feast for Crows again, I was sick of Westeros and started reading something else to have a break. Then I forgot what happened, again, and was bracing myself for a re-re-read. The other day I was so sick of putting everything off that I just read the book summary of AFFC so I could get on with it! Then I decided I wasn’t actually that bothered, and read the summary for ADWD as well. Mistake. I found out something really juicy and was gutted I’d spoilered myself. Now I won’t get the same OMG WHUT reaction when I read it. Patience, especially when it comes to my obsessions, is not my strong suit.

At the moment though I have been reading Robin Hobb. I have the Farseer trilogy in paperback and The Soldier Son trilogy on my Kindle, snapped up in a 0.99 sale (yay!) but her books are no less weighty than Martin or Feist. I read Assassin’s Apprentice about eighteen months ago and never got around to carrying on. Now I’m just over halfway through Royal Assassin and all wrapped up in classic high fantasy. I need it to ground myself.

I have posted before about books and using them as mood stabilisers. Reading is never just about the book for me. If I’m re-reading an old favourite it is partly to remember the time I first read it. I read Chocolat at Lent not just because the narrative spans that time frame. It reminds me of the darkness of winter evenings and chunky knitwear and the promise of spring.

Gemmell, and other high fantasy, takes me back to simpler times, and the long summers of my teens when I could literally spend a week in the holidays stretched out on my bed boxed in by a palisade of words. Sunny mornings in the garden where the grass in the shade was still slicked with dew.

So too with music. I’ve been building a “summer” playlist, but the tracks are those that take me back to different times. Some are good driving songs, others played on crackling radios in the park. Party songs and bands that had a heyday. Hearing Ocean Colour Scene and Hanson zooms me into my teens (I refuse to say “my youth” – I’m still young!) the way that Meat Loaf and the Eagles dump me smack bang into the bedroom of my first boyfriend.

Reading, writing, music… they cannot exist free of context. Ivory, I know, with her Darkness Falls books, has found catharsis in reliving difficult situations from her past. They say write about what you know. Rivka’s The Last Ancient series is set at a boarding school. Rivka went to a similar one (though presumably one without secret witches? Maybe not…). When I go back to Once Bitten I am back at uni, third year, struggling to find my feet again after a year abroad. Murder Express makes me restless, as I have mostly added to it when on the move. Quril draws together the many parts of my weird brain and makes me a little Zen.

I need those drafts. Expedition to the computer shop tomorrow. I will be writing again by this time tomorrow.

In the meantime, I feel in the mood to rearrange my bedroom furniture, though I doubt I have the motivation to empty the shelves of books and the drawers of my dresser to make them light enough to lift alone. I am yearning to rebuild my world around me. I think the sun has charged me up a little and I am stirring just like the ever-chirping birds.

Read this blog post again. I’m getting a bit eloquent. It’s spring clean time. It’s building time. It’s action stations for my insides.


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Happiness – July 2011

“Happiness,” said Maria, “is that kid down there on the skateboard pretending he’s Superman.”

“No,” said Jack leaning over the balcony to look. “Happiness is that blonde girl trying to catch bubbles.”

“Stop being philosophical,” laughed Maria, squeezing his arm.

“You started it.”

The bubbles drifted higher as a flock of boys on push scooters swooped towards the swings.

“Maybe happiness is that boy on the climbing frame,” said Jack after careful consideration.

“No, that’s just a broken arm waiting to happen,” answered Maria with a grimace.

“Alright then,” shrugged Jack, taking Maria’s hand. “Happiness is the warmth between our fingers.”

They sat in silence for a while, watching the swings and wincing at the shrieks of the blissful.

“My palms are beginning to sweat,” announced Maria wrinkling her nose.


“Maybe happiness is that girl in yellow?” she asked.

“The one doing laps of the slide?” he replied. “You think happiness is running in circles?”

“No,” said Maria. “Happiness is the part where you get dizzy.”

Written from a Spanish balcony, dodging a million ants, looking out over a busy playground. July 2011.

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NaNo Fail Mo

Right, so, “Why failing NaNoWriMo was a good thing”.

This was my fifth year of doing NaNo and the first year that I have not reached 50k in thirty days. At the moment my wordcount stands at about 31k. Now, that’s not really that bad for a month’s work. Averaged out it’s just over a thousand words a day.

The reasons I didn’t get my purple bar this year are legion: there were days when I wrote nothing because I had family visiting that I hadn’t seen for over a decade and I didn’t want to be rude; there were a couple of days I didn’t write because one of our friends had had a bad time and was round at ours and to be honest making sure she was OK was more important than my wordcount; there were days when I was just too tired after work.

Work is the main reason. I’m not saying that my work is more tiring than anyone else’s. There are people who work longer hours than me at more difficult jobs that Win every year. This year, though, for me, was super tough. It was like a perfect storm of distractions, complications and epic busyness. I signed up for some stuff at work that takes up more time, because I feel like I should be committed to personal development to keep me working to the best of my ability. I carried on helping at the Drama club. I had my actual job to do. I think I’ve had more late finishes at work this November where I’ve actually been doing work-related things than I’ve ever had.

I did not write a single NaNo word at work this year. Last year I wrote half of it at work. Oops. It usually becomes an obsession. I’m super-competitive and no more so than when I’m competing against myself. A CHALLENGE?!?! Bring it on. Fifty thousand words in thirty days is a good challenge. It involves writing (duh) and it is a target that is so easy to manage or totally fail at based on personal discipline. Last year, and the year before, my work suffered because I was so determined to get my writing done. An anonymous community of strangers judging me for my word count was more important to me than the work and the people around me. Failure was not an option.

So this year’s failure I’m counting as a Win for personal development. My work stayed the priority over my skewed and disproportionate pride and competitiveness. I’ve had a good month and I’ve really enjoyed the writing that I have done: I rediscovered my first ever NaNo and am closer than ever to finishing the complete draft for that story!

It was third year at university and I lived in a flat with all girls and a couple of them –OK, me and one other – were sort of into Twilight a little. Not totally obsessed. Not like Twihards. But we read the books and liked them a proportionate amount. Anyway, that November my other flatmate told us about NaNoWriMo and she said she was going to do it. So we all signed up to keep her going. So I wrote about what I knew. I based the main character on myself, wrote it in the first person, and off I went. Fifty thousand words later there were vampires and werewolves and shape shifters and trips to Norway and London. And danger! And romance! And a lot of kissing. It was a product of its time and in some ways so shameful but right now it’s at 70k+ and thus officially the longest thing I’ve ever written and I am super proud of myself.

So enjoying some pressure-free writing was more important to me this month. I am desperate to try and keep writing more regularly and at least get this vampire story finished so I can leave it be for a while and let it settle, and get on with some more grown-up ventures. Like the other unfinished drafts. And… the new sci fi thing… I accidentally started writing… um… oops?

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The Tomb of Memory

The eyes that goad are darkened now with sleep

And hands that tease are gentle in repose

This effigy of all I wish to keep

Is falsehood ‘neath veneer of charming prose.

Angelic devil, beast of carnal grace;

You lie, in state, and lie with true conviction.

A mask, well-sculpted, hides your private face;

Lips tarnished with wet breath of malediction.

It slips, you know, to show the rot within:

A leprous bloom erupts with ev’ry word

That creeps and coaxes, gently whetting sin

To cut the heart that flutters like a bird…

And yet, somehow, with time, my soul forgets

The hellish things you do for want of sex.

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Alright, if you’re following me on Twitter (either on my personal account @Addison_Crow or currently on @WritersRotation) you’ll know that last night I was subject to local customs (like they’re a contagion). Even though it was raining, a crowd of locals and tourists gathered in the car park opposite my flat to listen to local musicians and watch the Highland dancers. They perform every Thursday night in the summer, and the pipe band practices every Thursday (which amounts to the same) the rest of the time. I was surprised by the range in ages, even though I shouldn’t have been. I said before, when I went to the ceilidh, that there were young people there. Well, there were teens outside in the rain last night, and a lot of them didn’t even look forced to be there. Parents, grandparents, tourist families, random lonely huddlers; all were out in droves to see SCOTLAND in capital letters.

It’s part of the reason I love living here, and in the Highlands particularly. There’s a sweetness about the place, a lack of shame at dorky cultural heritage, and though the kids were dressed like gangsta rappers for the most part, they still clapped along to the traditional music with gusto. I would have been out there with them, but I spent Wednesday and yesterday doing the final clean on the old flat. My ex had gone, the place was empty, and despite claiming to have cleaned, the ex’s efforts were minimal. My hands are still recovering from all the cleaning products, dunking in hot water, hard scrubbing, and grime. So I was feeling pretty skanky. Lowlights: cleaning the hairballs from the washing machine (my ex was pretty much Chewbacca in terms of body hair) and cleaning the damn oven.

Still, if you’re ever in my neck of the woods on a Thursday night, see if you can spot me frowning out of the window because a fecking pipe band is playing when I want to watch something/listen to something. Blooming natives.

Right, well, it’s been a busy week at the Crow’s Nest. I’m trying to do the Scott Lynch Locke Lamora readalong in preparation for Republic of Thieves this October, I have been trying to get more sewing done, I’ve been faffing about…

Ugh, faffing about. I think it’s my love of faffing about that will stop me being a proper, published, successful author. I can’t keep focused and motivated if I’m left to my own devices. I need structure. I’d have to go to an office with other writers, and write like it was a job, with people glaring at me meaningfully when I faffed about for too long. I have four different stories on the go, with two more in my head. I refer you to Hyperbole And A Half “This Is Why I’ll Never Be An Adult” which pretty much explains how it works. I’m coasting towards thirty and I can’t keep myself motivated if no one’s looking. Fook’s sake.

In a way I don’t mind. I mean, I do have a full-time job (and a career path if I want it) that I enjoy when I’m not crippled with fear that someone will find out that I’m actually quite lazy. It pays reasonably well, compared to a lot of jobs people who graduated with me now have. I have enough to be getting on with, and I could always do sewing-related things as a side project if I wanted to. I can do NaNoWriMo, and write little stories, and add to my drafts when I feel like it. One day I might show them to people. I don’t NEED to publish. I can be on the periphery. I can do reviews for other people, and talk to authors on Twitter, and blog about books. I can live with authors and not be screamingly jealous.

Except… I’m good. I think. People tell me I’m good, though I know that’s no guarantee. I mean, strangers who aren’t my family or close friends like what I write. Slightly more reliable. And based on some of the weird tripe I’ve read and seen published over the years, I’d be a shoe-in! After an age of heart-breaking rejection, obviously. I know it’s all hard graft and apprenticeships. Scott Lynch told me so, though I knew that already (I blogged about it back there somewhere *waves hand in vague direction of the past*).  I’m not kidding myself in that regard. Apart from when I second-guess myself and wonder if my work is only being read by idiots.

Seriously though, am I the only one who goes to bookshops, browses the Fantasy and/or Sci Fi section and is amazed by the weird stuff that gets scooped up and published? It gives me hope, but it also fills me with dread. Being an author has always been my dream (apart from being a librarian) and I really really really want it to come true.

Right, I tell you what. Double post day. I’ll post a short piece I wrote for a competition. I seem to have had more views recently, so please comment, you lurkers, and give me your thoughts. The prompt was that the protagonist was being threatened or attacked by thirty assailants. Whether they survived was up to us. There you are then. I’ll post that first so it comes up below this post, in order to make more sense. Or something.

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Thirty in a Room (Fiction)

Written for the “Thirty in a Room” challenge, Jottify, May/June 2012

I am trapped. Backed into the far corner of the room though I know that won’t keep me safe for long. The others are dead – or dying – but I turn my face to the wall to try to block out their final gasps of terror. Our captors leave me alone while they deal with the rest. They know I cannot escape. Even if I managed to slip from this room into another, where would I go? I would be found and returned to this chamber. No one here is a friend.

I don’t understand. Why have we been brought here? They have been toying with us all afternoon. We’ve been passed around like cigarettes for everyone to take a drag. I thought the worst was over, that we’d be left alone for a while to recover. Now this. I shouldn’t complain. We were given a brief respite while they ate – leaving us with nothing, of course – but now they are back. We heard them hurrying back to us after their meal, impatient for more games.

Their leader laughs as he stamps on someone’s face. I think one of the women called him Thomas. He struts around the room in his big boots, oh so very proud of himself. Carelessly he aims a kick at my sister. She squeals as his foot connects and then she is rolling, crying, across the floor.

Thomas is flushed as he surveys the chaos around him. His followers – how many are there? Thirty? – look to him for direction. They are breathing hard. Some are clutching my fellow prisoners, squeezing them tightly in hot hands. There are only so many ways to assault and I fear they have exhausted the more usual methods. I shudder, already feeling the pressure of their fingers on my frail skin.

“Outside!” yells one of them suddenly. “Thomas, we should take them outside!”

Thomas grins in agreement and bundles anyone in reach before him towards the harsh daylight on the other side of the curtain. Will our humiliation never end? Here, in the isolation of this room, we have been punched and kicked and bruised and twisted into the most unnatural shapes. Some of us even had pins stuck in them. I escaped the worst of that torture, hanging quietly at the back of the group.

Not so any more. A small, weasel-faced bully reaches for me, pulls me from the relative safety of my corner. He drags me out with the others, by the neck, happily scraping his nails across my tender flesh. I know for certain, then, what I have been hoping was panicked pessimism. None of us will survive this ordeal.

They don’t want any of us to survive. These petty thugs will leave us all torn and broken, forgotten, before the sun sets.

As I adjust to the bright glow of the yard, I can already tell we are much fewer in number. Once we outnumbered them two to one. Now we are barely ten. I am the last one out of the room. Some of the smaller captives are shivering in the warm breeze. Others drift, vacant, already lost. I fight the urge to shudder. I daren’t look back at the floor behind me. I know what carpets the bare wood now.

Thomas arranges his pack into two lines. We are corralled between them. The air shimmers in the heat and I know we do not have long. There is not one of those thirty who will show any mercy. Their faces are hard, cold, their eyes shining with savage joy.

“How hard do you think we can kick them?” asks a subordinate who I remember as being particularly vicious with his heavy-tread footwear. He rubs his hands, already eyeing up a potential target.

Thomas laughs, and the others are quick to join in. They press closer, eyes bright, licking their lips in anticipation of the final frenzy to come. Who will be the first to crack? Whose hands will snake out and grab one of us?

It is the weasel-faced one who plunges, shrieking, into our midst. In the flurry of movement that follows we are separated by the force of his arms. He snatches, grabbing the one next to me and I am jolted away. Thomas himself gets his hands on my neck and now I brace for the final, decisive blow.

“Thomas!” calls a tall woman from the doorway. She is smiling, looking fondly on him and his friends. “Come inside! It’s time for your cake!”

The boys whoop as they surge for the door back into the house, jostling for position closest to the birthday boy.

Thomas keeps me in one sticky hand while he fumbles with his badge. A huge number seven hangs forlornly on his shirt.

“Thomas! Leave those balloons and come inside!” his mother insists.

He giggles as he looks down at me, breathing hard with concentration.

With a sigh, he lets me go, and instead of floating down to the grass I swarm up on the breeze.


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