Tag Archives: Writing

Federal Bureau of Instigation

Currently reading: Stephen Hunt, Secrets of the Fire Sea

Feeling: Potent! (in the sense of “full of things that will burst forth with glorious purpose!”)

Whiiiiiich immediately makes me think of this

Whiiiiiich immediately makes me think of this

Hello, hello. Well, I’ve been on holiday, and I have *thunderclap* read a book that was not on my list. But I couldn’t help it, because I was at my parents’ house, and it was just lying there… and I was bored… it was The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie; a series of shorts – twelve in fact – about the famous moustachioed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. AND I’M NOT SORRY. Also, bloody hell, the olden times were misogynistic!

I went out bureau hunting today. It wasn’t so much a hunt as going to a shop and saying “yes, we’ll have that bureau, please”, but hey. Let’s make it an adventure. It was not a bureau for me, dear reader, oh heavens no! I’ve had a bureau for a while now. It’s lovely and foldy and has cubbies. What sort of self-respecting writer doesn’t have a bureau? Tut tut. How could you doubt me? I love it almost as much as the cocktail cabinet of joy. I have a cocktail cabinet. FEAR ME.

Anyway… I helped my friend buy and transport the bureau in my lovely, battered old car. We also did some gardening. I can feel myself levelling up to a new and impressive state of middle-class-ness. Hurrah for furniture that needs a key, I say!

I’m sorry to say that over my holiday I did not manage to get the draft of Once Bitten re-edited. I did pretty well with it, but the middle third needs a bit (a lot) more punch. Looking at it objectively (ha!) I can see a few holes that need some narrative polyfilla to appeal to an audience that isn’t me, or in on the joke. So Broadening The Range is the new goal. I’m happier with it than I was. I feel like it’s improving with revision, so I’m going in the right direction. I’m transferring the draft to Novlr as I go along (with a back up, of course! Never again, NaNoWriMo 2012!) and enjoying that process. It’s a pretty simple interface at the moment, more or less WYSIWYG, but they’re adding new features and fixing bugs as they go, and it’s working for me.

I’ve got a little crafting to do over the next couple of days so perhaps I’ll photoblog the things. Perhaps. Gotta leave ‘em wanting more *nudge nudge*

Onwards and upwards!


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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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Status and Stasis

Hey, guys. Confession: I’m probably never going to be a writer. And that’s OK. I just started a sentence with “and”, for Christ’s sake; look at the evidence! That’s not to say I have stopped writing or that I never intend to finish any of the many ongoing projects I have. I enjoy writing and I feel like I have stories worth telling. I just can’t stick to writing as a sole creative outlet.

So I’m planning to restructure this place as a more general creative space. I have a number of projects that are textile-based that I’ll be talking about, as well as things about writing. It’s a sad time but also a happy time. I haven’t been active on here or on Twitter for months and months. I can’t claim that this is a space I want to use as a professional tool.

I am really happy about the friends and acquaintances I have made so far: E O Higgins, Ivory Quinn, Rivka Spicer (though I do know the last two IRL), Katie Cross, Julie Hutchings, Rich Ford, and the lovely people at Opening Line Magazine who published some of my poems. Not to mention my writer-in-crime JA Garrett whom I’ve known the longest of all of them, and apart from his wife I’ve probably read more of his stuff.

For a long time, writing prose and poetry was a saving grace for me. I can’t draw to save my life, but I could paint pictures with my words *vom*. However, I’ve always been quite craftsy. I have made wedding and birth records, countless friendship bracelets, clothes, toys, Christmas decorations, bedding… so despite my lack of 2D visualisation, I work quite well in 3D. I re-upholstered my own headboard!

My time and energy these days is more and more devoted to Stuff I Make With My Hands. I’ve got a few birthday and Christmas projects I’m very excited about. Priorities change, I guess? If I ever get to the end of writing something I’m excited about, you’ll be the first to know. But in the meantime prepare for photo blogs of stitching and rants about Hobbycraft.

And probably some more Book a Day things. Because they’re fun. The books are never going to go away.


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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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Whatever the weather

Saturday morning… a glorious time. The morning after the night before… And to top it all off, a new month as well. I’m feeling pretty positive today. I have a ton of work to do, but I PROMISE I will do it. Honest Injun.

But first…

Let’s talk about the weather. As an Englishwoman I feel pretty well attuned to the weather. Having an opinion on the elements is hardwired into the DNA of my national stereotype, after all. This morning, helping my mood, the sun is out. Inspired by this I have opened my bedroom window (gasp!) though I’m sure I will regret that soon because it’s not actually that warm outside.

I think about the weather when I’m writing (if I’m writing. Sigh.) because it’s all part of the experience of the story. Just like in film. Even though it might not be as obvious in writing – a thunderclap isn’t quite so epic, come on – all those little atmospheric details go in and register in the reader’s brain.

At school, writing stories in English would inevitably make the teacher ask us “What was the weather like?” “What time of day was it?” because we were so focused on the action of the narrative nothing else occurred to us. It might also have been another way to boost word count. But mainly, it was to help us to realise that the reader does not automatically see from our writing what we saw in our heads when we wrote it. I can tend to have the opposite problem. I’ve written things before (yet another unfinished something) that I’ve shown parts of to friends who told me it was quite dense, quite description heavy. Well yes. I wanted them to see what I saw. Exactly. Exactly as I saw it. No. Other. Option. Yet as a reader I am happy to get into debates about what characters look like and how it differs from perhaps an official author-description or an actor who plays them in a film, or the cover art (see Chris McGrath’s Aragorn version of Logen Ninefingers on the cover of Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself).

I think I have to let go of that sort of thing. The weather on the other hand, can be fairly explicitly portrayed. And it can affect how we see a character or a plot point and the way we perceive the emotions tumbling out on the page. The weather can match or counter point a character or event.

When something awful happens: it’s more likely to be raining, or threatening rain.

When something cool is happening: sun, warmth, clear skies

That’s the basics. Obviously you have to take the season into account. Also, snow makes everything magical (I think this is a The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe cultural hangover – the Tumnus part, not the Jadis part).

Take this morning: I was jazzed! The sun! The warmth! Vibes! If it had been raining my mood probably wouldn’t have been so good, OR I’d have been bouncing off the walls to banish the gloom and keep my high. Same with the above. It’s almost as much of a stereotype to go against the weather for dramatic effect now as it is to go with it to enhance the overall emotion of a scene.

Something awful happens: The sun is a spiteful ball of joy in the sky. The warm summer breeze could not lift the chill in his heart.

Something good happens: Not even the darkest clouds could spoil the day! Electricity in the air from a storm just makes people more excited!

…aaaand snow makes everything magical.

The weather is so important to storytelling. Thomas Hardy was a big fan of scene setting. So much so that when we read Far From the Madding Crowd at school our same English teachers who told us to add weather details told us to skip three pages because it was all just Hardy waxing on about the bucolic joys of the countryside in spring. You win some you lose some.

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Snowed Under (without snow)

I was all set to write about the calm solitude of a Saturday morning when Ivory stumbled through the kitchen. I’m usually the earliest riser so I tend to have the place to myself first thing on weekends. It’s nice to bimble about and get first crack at the washing machine, and to have some time to process the week.

I originally planned to have the blog update on Tuesdays and Fridays but things have become so busy that’s clearly not happening. You should see my schedule for work for the next six weeks. If we all get to Easter without a mental break down it will be a miracle.

So I will have three times in the week carved out for definite: Monday night for Zumba (I know… but it’s actually not as awful as I feared), Thursday night for Powerhoop (pummel that midriff!) and Saturday morning for blogging. Anything else at the moment is fair game. I’m really going to have to pull my finger out and do some actual work. Like properly 100% put in effort. That’s not to say I don’t do my job well. But there’s always more I can do and with all the changed to my job this year I’ve sort of been treading water a little. So I need to get my head down and not do my usual thinking on the fly.

Which means that writing and everything else I enjoy will be once again crushed under the weight of being an actual functioning adult. Do I have to keep doing this every day for the next sixty years?! I mean, I like being busy and I like having stuff to accomplish but… it’s depressing thinking about all the things I won’t have time to do without feeling guilty for “wasting” time.

So why the hell am I still here blogging? I’ve got this one last weekend to have a serious blowout of reading and sewing and stuff. Living the dream. Living. The. Dream.

Until next week, with hopefully some writing or reading news assuming I will have done either of those things in the next seven days.

On the plus side, Ivory being up means I’m munching a nice warm pain au chocolat I wouldn’t otherwise have had 🙂

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I’ve not written much for a while. My laptop suddenly died and I have a new one, but…

Like a complete idiot, I never backed up anything. I was planning on getting a new laptop anyway this month so I was literally a day away from transferring things across to an external hard drive when my poor, overheating, dying baby went kaput.

So there’s 240k of words trapped and lost in an oubliette of my own digging. Some of them were even pretty good, I thought. I don’t think they’re gone forever – they’d better not be or I think I will throw myself out the window – but getting things off my hard drive and back into view will take a while.

I was one of those people who thought it could never happen to them. Even after a bluescreen on the last day of NaNoWriMo 2012 when I thought I’d lost everything. Even that didn’t make me start putting things on Dropbox or something. Well now it has happened to me and I have a few days off work and I really want to write… but I have three drafts that are unavailable.

It’s like I’ve lost a part of me. In a way I have. It’s more than the drafts: photos, short stories, poems, work documents… cast adrift in a little broken bottle in a sea of tech that I can’t do anything about.

Learn from me, people of the intertubes. Learn from my despair.

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