alex harlequin

Outsider’s Crown

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Would anyone like an update?

I confess it has been a while. Again. But with my coursework finally finished and out of the way, and I think I might have grasped the concept of a target audience now (hopefully), not to mention a new project that I am very excited about, I think updates should be more frequent from now on!

(Feel free to quote me on that later 🙂 )

What new project, I hear you ask? A new novel series!

But wait–what about the ones I have had on my website for ages, the ones I’ve been talking about since I began this blog?

Well, there are several reasons. The first being, after five years of exhausting myself over coursework, I need to work on something fresh, something new for a while.

The second being, the idea I am now working on which sprung into my head when I finished my degree, is a self-contained series. That is, I shall be writing four books and no more. My other fantasy novels are all set in a universe which requires extra-extremely careful planning because I intend to explore many parts of it in several different series.

The third being, time. I intend to create new languages for my science fiction universe, something that I am not able to pursue right now. And I want to focus on something that I can complete now.

There is a fourth reason, though it is closely related to the third reason. I have come to the conclusion that I am not a natural screenwriter and have chosen my path as a full-time novelist. Since I learned the hard way through fan fiction not to make the beginning of a story/series publicly available until I had actually completed the entire project, this means it could be a while before I see any income from my work. I am very fortunate, and grateful, to have family support, but of course the larger the first project, the more likely I am to bankrupt my parents …

Why try and write a whole series then, you ask? Well, don’t blame me. That’s just how my ideas come.

So after all that, I’m sure you’d like to hear something about my novel. A genre at least. Well, it’s a portal fantasy, probably going to be for young adults though I don’t get hung up about audiences when I’m writing.

The working title for the first novel is Outsider’s Crown. I have been planning it since May and am intending to write a full first draft for Camp Nanowrimo in July. This is my profile and more info on the novel. The plan is to write the second book for NaNoWriMo in November, then the third and fourth in next year’s Camps in April and July.

Wish me luck!

Poetry Reading and Quoting Lyrics

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Firstly, an announcement. On Friday 1st August I will be reading three of my poems, including the winning “Nutshell”, at the book launch of “You is For University” in which it is published.

It will be my first time reading my work aloud to more than a few peers in a classroom, so I’m understandably nervous! I’m hoping to be able to post some sort of recording of the event on here, but have not had confirmation yet of that possibility so watch this space.

Now to another topic. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the feeling when you discover you have been mi-hearing the lyrics to a favourite song ever since you first heard it. I had that experience recently with Evanescence’s “Away From Me” (from their demo album “Origin”).

The most annoying thing about that revelation was not that I actually prefer the version I thought I was hearing. It’s that I had been planning to quote it in a fan fiction, and it turns out that the actual lyrics don’t fit the story nearly as well as what I thought it was.

The actual lyrics:

I’ve woken now
To find myself
In the shadows
Of all I have created

What I thought they were:

I’ve woken now
To find myself
In the shadows
Of a lie I created

Tiny difference, big impact of the meaning, especially since it was the line “a lie I created” that grabbed me for the story in question.

The good thing is, this has never (so far) happened to me with original fiction–probably because I don’t make it a habit of quoting song lyrics in it. For fan fiction, however, I reckon I could get away with quoting my interpretation of the lyrics and then adding an explanitory note.

Idiotic Things I’ve Done This Month (The Rambles Are Back!)

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My poems are now available to pre-order in their respective anthologies from The Student Wordsmith and Good Newz–follow links here. [UPDATE: Sorry the link doesn’t seem to be working. I’m still trying to figure out why that is. In the meantime I’ve posted the info on my Welcome page.]

End sales pitch.

I’ve had an interesting month. I did a few posts titled “Things I Learned in [insert month here]” when I first started this blog, but haven’t done any for a while. But for this post I’m doing something … else.

Some Things I Learned:

  1. My animal is a beaver, according to one of those “What animal are you” quizzes. The night after I did the quiz, I had a dream about a beaver called Bobby who kept singing Madonna’s “Open Your Heart”. Feel free to analyse.
  2. If you stick a tube in a tree and collect the water, you can boil it down to make syrup. (Not all trees.) I only know this because I was looking at a wilderness survival website for researching a fan fiction (which is like a kind of cross between Lost, The Hunger Games, and I’m a Celebrity).
  3. I can, apparently, hold my breath for longer than average, since I beat my St Peter’s buddies on our Butlins weekend. This came as a real surprise since I always thought my lungs were rubbish and expected to lose. Okay, I used to play the oboe, but only for a couple of years, about eight years ago …
  4. This one’s for the Whovians: there is no ‘C’ in the Gallifreyan alphabet. At least in the one designed by Lorna Sherman, which is awesome and I’ve been inputting tonnes of character names into the translator.

Some Really Dumb Things I’ve Done (I learned from these too):

I wanted to go to Charing Cross. I usually use the ticket machines rather than real people, since the queues usually move faster and I don’t have to worry about being misheard (I don’t have a particularly loud voice).

For some reason I couldn’t fathom, my only options seemed to be “Charing Cross Underground (Sorry no fares available”, or “Charing Cross Glasgow”. Instead of going to the ticket office like a normal person, I panicked and bought a ticket to London Bridge instead.

This meant that upon arriving at said station, I had to walk all the way to the barriers, go out with the ticket and touch in with my Oyster, and go back to the same platform I’d just arrived at to get the next train. And, subsequently, the same on the way home.

And it’s not till I was just typing this up that I twigged: I should have been searching for “LONDON Charing Cross”.

Do you want to know the most ridiculous part? I wasn’t even running late. In fact I arrived an hour and a half early. Why I panicked I have no idea. I apparently have a pathological need to get to places early. It’s more of a nuisance than it sounds

Here’s another example of how my brain (sometimes) works. Yesterday I got it into my head that it was a bank holiday. (My calendar doesn’t have holidays marked, and I don’t use a diary, so they usually creep up on me.) For some reason, I thought it must be May Day.

Yep.

And it’s not like I didn’t know it was actually March. It wasn’t until twenty-seven hours later, and I was pondering when spring starts, that I twigged.

So, there’s some insight into this author’s head for you. I hope you don’t find it too frightening.

PS: I don’t like starting each new post with an apology for not posting in a while, so I’m not going to do it anymore.

mystery

Mystery sentence. First reader to translate it gets a minor character named after them in aforementioned fan fiction.

Magic Tea and Dalek Cupcakes (They’re Awesome!)

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I guess blogging, like with anything, there’s a time to know when to break the rules. Today, I am rambling just like I used to.

For starters, sorry again for the gap. Birthday + nasty cough = letting things slide. Not that the cough and the birthday were at the same time, thank goodness. I had one, then the other. And talking of my birthday, see photo below!

1619359_10201331760431486_336652819_nThe Doctor Who decorations and cake kit were a bit of a surprise from my mother. It certainly added a little something to my party, which consisted of four friends and two brothers coming over and all of us stuffing ourselves with pizza then talking geeky stuff until … uh, quite late. Late in my book, anyway. I’m no night owl.

The cough hasn’t been nice. Usually I can stave off colds with what I call my “magic tea”–it’s not magic, just a Chinese herbal tea called Xiasangju Keli. I just have a cup or two when I start getting the sniffles and it clears up–much better than First Defence, which I’ve never liked. I’ve never got a full-on cold since I began drinking it (the time I forgot to drink it aside), though sore throats seem to be something else. Either that or I just didn’t drink enough. Anyway, I’m just coming out of my lack-of-sleep haze enough to be able to write something coherent and hopefully interesting. I’ve spent most of the last few days watching House of Anubis (series two, second time!) and reading Percy Jackson–finished the first series for the second time, and just finished the first in the second, for the first. The two combined have given me some strange dreams and story ideas. I’m itching to write something with weird puzzles and time travel.

Today, for only the second time ever, I did an entry at 750words.com. It would be a very useful site if I remembered to use it more often. I wish I had the gumption to do it every day, but when I look at the little link in my toolbar I think, I dunno what I would write/I feel dry/my brain’s not up to the task, etc. But I managed to get my fingers moving on the keyboard again and spurt out a load of random stuff, some of which I have just re-written for this paragraph! I’m hoping using it will get me back into blogging, and give me more randomness to offer the world.

I’m changing the subject back to the cupcakes, but only because I didn’t want to put this earlier for formatting purposes:

My copy of You is For University, in which “Nutshell” is published, is in the post! Finally I can see my name in print for the first time. And in my final bit of news, I received an offer for someone to translate some of my Doctor Who fanfiction into Russian! I actually got the request a while ago but I’ve just said yes (I thought I had already for ages). I’ve already had a Harry Potter drabble posted in French … does this make my work trilingual? Okay, probably not, since I’m not doing the translating. But still!

Fiery Villains, Yearbook Dilemma, Anthologies

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I’m currently agonising over the last question for my yearbook profile. “What experience at uni will you always remember?” Well to be honest, most of my good experiences over the last three and a bit years have nothing to do directly with my uni. Most of the friends I’ve made during that time are through outside things–NaNoWriMo and church. The friends I made in Fresher’s Week I had a great time with then, but lost somewhere down the line. Because I’ve never done much social stuff at uni, I was out of mind.

Okay, I’m going to stop this here before it turns into a poor-little-me routine. That’s not the intention. I’m just expressing my dilemma. I will probably end up saying something about Fresher’s Week, but I wish I knew what to write.

Anyway, moving on, I spent an interesting Monday morning plotting one of my villains for Aquila. It’s the second time I’ve used my giant whiteboard, which is a great tool as long as I write it all down somewhere permanent and wipe it off fairly quickly. I took a photo this time, although I’ve had to black a few points out to avoid spoiling too badly. OK, half the points.

Here’s a little taster:

blackedoutversion

I’m getting there with the first draft. I reached the end of my plan with 2,000 words to go, but since plotting my villain(?s) out I’m making progress with filling the gaps. It still reads a bit stilted to me, but maybe I’m being a bit hard on myself. I need to print out the whole thing and scribble on it. That always helps. I might even post an extract.

One last thing. I’m considering submitting the Aquila original short story in a competition to be published in a YA anthology. Maybe one of my other stories as well (it accepts multiple submissions). Watch this space! Unfortunately one of my poems, Reasons to Sing, might not now be published due to the anthology not receiving adequate funding. This is the donation link.

 

New Title (Again), Apologies

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Hi everyone. I’m sorry if you think I’ve been messing this blog up recently. I tried following lots of people’s advice to improve it, eg:

  • tailor to target audience
  • ‘give’ the readers something
  • use multi media

I tried all that, and I seem to have lost readers along the way, not gained any. So I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been trying too hard and was doing okay before. So I intend to compromise by keeping my rambles, interspersed with other things but I’m not going to fret over posting lots of reviews or anything like that any more.

Right. New start, new blog title. I was never completely happy with ‘The Notebook’, it was just not interesting enough for me, and I tried using a quote from one of my poems and that didn’t work either. But then @AEMarling Tweeted my tagline:

and I got the bright idea of basing my blog title on it. I recently changed the blog theme as well: which do people prefer, this one or the notebook-style one?

So, onto my rambles. I could ramble about the fact that nobody turned up to my class yesterday and I still can’t work out how they all knew it was a reading week and I didn’t. (I checked every page of my notebook, nothing.) Or I could ramble about the fact that I was woken at 11:45 last night by a wrong number. Unfortunately I was too tired to really be much help–like, being able to tell him my phone number to see if he had dialled wrong or not. (I’m guessing he was given the wrong number, since he called four times.) I feel rather guilty because I unplugged the phone, and then later realised that might not be a good idea, replugged it and found it was too late–he’d left a message, probably thinking he’d got it right this time, and turned his phone off.

(I didn’t listen to the message. I don’t even know how to play them, I haven’t figured my landline out yet. My brother knows how to delete them, which is very helpful.) I left a message telling him he’d got me again and what my number was–nothing else I could really do by that point.

ChocolateAll this on top of a long day in London. After discovering my lesson wasn’t on, and that there was no meeting at church that night either, I found I was free to go somewhere I hadn’t been to since I left London. I go into London regularly, and when I do I try and allow time to visit some of my old haunts. (For Harrow, this means The Chocolate Room. For Camden, this means my favourite Japanese restaurant. I haven’t found a favourite place in Uxbridge yet because I only just started going there, but I like it. I don’t really have a favourite place in Hendon–I only hang around there prior to a lesson or tutorial, I find it too busy.) Once place I don’t have the opportunity to visit is Ealing, though I used to go there when I was still in London. It has the biggest Pret a Manger I’ve ever been to, with an upstairs that doesn’t get too busy except at lunchtimes, and I could easily spend hours there writing or reading. So when I suddenly had the day free, I went back. And as much as I enjoyed myself, it was a long day.

So today’s going to be one of those recovery, don’t get much done days. Which is okay by me, since I just got the second series of House of Anubis in the post. (Parts one AND two–since I have a multi-region DVD player, I was able to get the second volume from Amazon.com. No way I’m waiting months on a cliffhanger.)

My resolution this year–yes, just one–was to do something productive every day. Of course, the definition of productive is flexible–it has to be, considering my health. Productive could just mean sorting out a few emails to stop my inbox from re-cluttering up, or making a connection on Twitter. (I’ve just made my first one with someone I do not personally know, which is quite exciting! I’ve been re-tweeted before, but never actually engaged in conversation–mainly because I do not know what to say to a stranger.) Both will be beneficial in the long run. Heck, even fanfiction will be beneficial in the long run, since a readership there = at least some people reading my original work. I would read my favourite fanfiction authors’ books myself if it weren’t for the fact that one is in Hungarian, and the other I’m not even sure if it exists since I heard about it only by rumour.

Call For (Constructive) Criticism, Aquila Extract

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My Aquila project has officially begun. I have drafted a plan of the pilot and begun researching the genre and other things. You may find I am talking about superheroes a lot for the coming months! I’ve invested in plenty of books on writing for television, as well as a few box sets to work my way through. I need to be a superhero expert by the time I come to write my critical essay, so that seems like a good place to start.

I began writing the plan out in script form, and feel it’s falling rather flat–it’s also turning out a lot shorter than it needs to be, which is worrying.

Extract:

Hospital Waiting Room

(DAD is staring at a magazine without reading it. FIONA comes rushing in.)

DAD: Fiona! (stands up quickly) Well?

FIONA: I’m fine. Just a bit of a bump, nothing to worry about.

DAD: Sweetheart, you have amnesia. I’d say that’s something to worry about.

FIONA: Dad, I’m fine. Look, they’re letting me go, see? And if my memories come back, they come back; if they don’t, well, I can live with that. Come on, let’s get out of here. Please.

Fiona’s Bedroom, Night

(FIONA is in her own bed, asleep but fitful. The flashes continue.)

DAD (v.o.): Sweetheart, you have amnesia. I’d say that’s something to worry about.

NURSE #1 (v.o.): I can’t make out what this is–it looks like some kind of implant …

(The words BEWARE REDTHORN is superimposed over her.)

GEORGIA REDTHORN (V.o.): Come on in my dear, let’s get you dried off and warm, and then something to eat …

(FIONA sits up with a gasp.)

Major’s Kitchen, Morning

DAD is brewing coffee. ALFIE is in school uniform eating breakfast, wide awake. MUM is on the phone, holding a list.

MUM: … I know we should have called, but it was the early hours and our primary concern was getting her to bed safely. … Of course, I’ll give her your love. Bye, Dad.

(Phone is replaced. MUM crosses a name off her list.)

MUM: So that’s Grandad notified …

FIONA enters in her dressing-gown. The room stills as they all look at her.

FIONA: Um, morning.

MUM: Morning, love. What do you want for breakfast?

DAD: Do you want some coffee? Or tea, I could put the kettle back on.

MUM: You could let her answer, Doug.

ALFIE: Mm, Daddy’s being rude.

DAD: Alfie!

FIONA: Do we have any bacon?

MUM and DAD look at each other.

MUM: No, but I could pick some up when I drop Alfie off at school. Come on, Alfie, you’ll be late.

(ALFIE finishes his breakfast speedily while DAD proffers the cafetiere at FIONA.)

FIONA: Coffee, please, Dad.

(FIONA sits down while DAD pours her a coffee. MUM ushers ALFIE out into the hall.)

ALFIE: (from hall) Fiona, you’ll still be here when I come home, right?

FIONA: Of course I will.

(Sounds of MUM and ALFIE leaving house.)

DAD: Are you all right, sweetheart?

FIONA: You’re all acting so weird.

DAD: You can hardly blame us, it hasn’t exactly been a normal few weeks.

FIONA: No, it hasn’t.

DAD: We all want things to go back to normal as soon as possible.

FIONA: I know, Dad. I just wish it were that easy.

Fiona’s Bedroom, Morning

(FIONA is alone with her laptop, and searches REDTHORN online. Too many results. She tries REDTHORN SUPER EYESIGHT and REDTHORN IMPLANTS but also gets nowhere. Tries variants with RED THORN, still nothing useful.)

School Gates, Morning

(FIONA stands in a milling crowd of students, nervous. She looks around, noticing minute details. She looks behind her and reads the menu of a cafe the other end of the road. Swallows, but with great reluctance joins the crowds.)

VICTORIA: Fiona?

(FIONA turns and sees VICTORIA and EMMA standing behind her.)

FIONA: Vicks! Emma!

FIONA goes to hug them both but they don’t respond.

EMMA: Where’ve you been?

FIONA: I … I’m not sure. Amnesia.

VICTORIA: That’s not what I heard. Everyone’s saying you ran out on us for the Gymnastics Championships.

FIONA: What? They’re not! That’s not what–

EMMA: No, you just chose then to do a disappearing act on us, your teammates. We always said you were a drama queen.

FIONA: But–I didn’t–really–

VICTORIA: Have a nice life, Fiona.

(VICTORIA and EMMA walk off, arm in arm. FIONA stands there, stunned. The bell goes and she runs into school.)

I’m looking for some constructive criticism (not about the format, I had to do some jiggling to get it to be readable as a blog post). This is the first time I’ve posted something on this blog specifically for feedback, I’m hoping to do it  more in future. I’m very very sorry for neglecting my blog, but the stress has I’m afraid been getting to me.

Funny-Pictures-Anti-stress