I have had a posting gap since I’ve been busy this week–with only days to go till I move, I made a to-do list of all the things I wanted to do while I was still in London. Things have been ticked off, crossed off, added, compromised and shuffled around, and I also read a blog post about how to write a successful blog, the main point being needing to do something for your readers.
So I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list, similar to my own list, of things to do in London, in the hope someone will find it useful.
This one is a no-brainer, really. Riding an Underground escalator often gives you an idea of the variety available. The official discount ticket booth is situated in Leicester Square and usually sells for a range of popular shows.
Tip: Do your research before you visit London, and see a show that’s not being performed anywhere else.
My museum of choice would be the observatory, which has interesting and stunning exhibitions and shows all year round. Though as an amateur astronomy I may be slightly prejudiced on this! The Astronomy Photographer of the Year is always worth checking out, some really beautiful images, and the shows put on are clearly communicated to be intelligible to those of us who aren’t experts (yet). I’m looking forward to seeing the Visions of the Universe exhibition starting soon.
I’m not actually sure I will get to this one; at the moment it’s being held in reserve if something gets cancelled. Since I haven’t been before I’m afraid I can’t comment on it. I can however point you towards the website. If I get to go, I promise I will add a constructive comment.
I would have been going here for two years if it had been around that long. The Choc Room is an Australian company who’ve just in the last few months opened their first UK branch in Harrow. They have something like 23 different flavours of hot chocolate, plus coffee, smoothies, milkshakes, waffles, individual chocolates, cakes, etc. I was a bit wary of the 23 flavours initially, expecting the syrups that get put in coffee, but the flavours are much subtler and more delicate. The prices are not low, but worth a try.
Tip: ordering the hot chocolate trio gets you three different flavours in shot glasses, so you can see which ones you like before ordering a ‘cuddle cup’ or ‘warming mug’.
I went for the third time yesterday, revisiting my favourite rooms: the ancient civilisations, Egypt, Greece and Rome, and the development of clocks and watches. There are many other rooms but it’s tricky to get to everything; it’s a good idea to prioritise your visit. Also, it’s worth peeking in the bookshop/gift shops first: when I first visited, I discovered a book “Around the British Museum with the Bible”, but only on my way out. I don’t think it’s the only example either. On a related note, there’s a small (free) exhibition currently running till October called Coins and the Bible, which is easy to miss as it’s one small room–worth checking out. It’s on Level 3.
Tip: The Egyptian rooms are very popular and can get pretty crowded–try and plan your route round so you’re there during quieter hours of the day, i.e. when it’s not packed with school trips.
London is packed with restaurants from all different cultures, if you’re just visiting, take the opportunity to try something new. Since moving to London I’ve tasted for the first time Japanese (my new favourite!), Lebanese and Persian cuisine, as well as rarer dishes such as jellyfish and wild boar. (Though I still refuse to try sashimi–raw fish.)
To the left is my Pin of the week!
Pin of the week:
I’m still chewing over some names, for my Conturbus and Not Alone series. I’ve named a place in Crossfire, The Locked Market, but still trying to come up with something original to refer to the magical characters. Like the opposite of a Muggle. Still no inspiration for the Milky Way–going to have to look at some more photos to help with that. Not that I need an excuse to look at space photographs.
I’ve finished a short story (for my Children’s Writing module) set in my–for lack of a better term–Not Alone-verse, which is a science fiction ‘universe’. Up until now I’ve been using temporary character names (never a good idea) and have finally got around to replacing them with the final ones.
Of my two main characters in the story, I have named one, and have come up with two possibilities for the other. They are brother and sister, he is ten and she is fourteen, from a planet that today I named Kcum. (Don’t ask me why.)
I do like my character names to mean something; this can be a problem when plausibly naming aliens, though. So for the girl, Selida, I combined two Earth names (I quote from Louise Nicholson’s The Best Baby Names Book):
From the Latin, sal, ‘salt, salt water’. Used metaphorically, it means intellectual acuteness, cunning, wit and good sense. To say someone is ‘the salt of the earth’ is to praise qualities of selflessness and common sense.
From the Hebrew, ‘noble, aristocratic woman’
For the boy I’m torn. I picked two names:
English gypsy name, meaning ‘fun’
From the Italian, poco, ‘little’
I’ve replaced the P with J, since I wanted to keep the same first letter as his temporary name. I like both variants, and can’t decide between them. Hence, if I’ve understood correctly, underneath should be my first poll!
While on the subject of names, I should probably name the fictional universe this is set in. I’m thinking another way to describe the Milky Way. Any thoughts on that, do comment.
I wrote this in an email from a reader asking for advice on starting a fan fiction, and thought I may as well share it with a wider audience.
I think the most valuable thing I’ve learned about writing fanfic is not to start posting prematurely. You may at first be filled with inspiration for a story, write the first chapter and want to expose it to the world right away.
You need to have a good few chapters written already, with plenty of ideas WRITTEN down for the rest of the story (so many times I’ve been sure I won’t forget the next plot twist, but it got lost in the ether), and safe in the knowledge that your inspiration for the story has lasted longer than a few weeks, before even contemplating beginning to post. This is where I went wrong in previous fandoms–in my profile you’ll find many one-chapter wonders that didn’t make it further because I began posting them far, far too soon.
You should usually have an idea how/when to end the story, or at the least a few ideas knocking around that you can choose from as you go. Or, if you’re doing a drabble series, have a few written already with a number of ideas for going further.
So, don’t be premature. Write all you can while the idea’s fresh, but don’t put anything online too soon. If the story’s only a few chapters long, consider writing it in full–and having beta-read, an invaluable investment–before you post. Then when it’s done, don’t post it all at once, wait until the first chapter has disappeared off the ‘recent’ list before posting the next one–you get more readers that way.
Familiarise yourself as much as possible both with canon and fanfic. Research in both areas is important. Re-watch the episodes closest to your story idea, check your facts on wiki, and try searching fanfic archives for fics that may have used the same idea. If you can’t find anything in the latter, be excited, you may be onto something! If there’s plenty of authors who’ve got there first, don’t panic, familiarise yourself with what’s gone first and make sure you do something different.
Getting the summary right is key, especially if the idea has been used before, so if it’s not your thing, ask a beta or an author who’s got good summaries on their fics to help. I think my record is twenty rewrites before I settled on one which worked, so don’t be discouraged if the first attempt isn’t great. Think of them like the blurb on the back of a book–they’ve got to have selling power. The length is a challenge, but can result in very concise and engaging summaries when embraced. FFnet allows quotes from the fic as summaries (not all archives do, I believe) so if you have a line or two in your story which expertly sums it up, by all means use it.
-From a fanficcer who wishes she’d received the same advice seven years ago!
I promised, so here it is: my Aquila book cover.
Much more clearly a mock-up than the previous post, but you get the idea. The leotard probably took me the longest; there were no images on the internet that fit the description I’d already written in the story, so I had to improvise by overlaying a feather clipart image over a plain gold one and cutting out all the white.
Other points of interest: The ‘keep out’ sticker, made from scratch in Photoshop, and my favourite (of course), the star stickers on her wardrobe door, arranged in the constellation that gave Aquila her name.
With regard to my superhero, I’m not certain what I’m going to do with her. Her short story could be expanded into any number of longer works. Watch this space.