alexannah

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!

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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!

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.

A Geeky Christmas

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Apologies for the long gap in posting. Hope everyone had a good Christmas and didn’t get indigestion. I hope all those in my area have their power back on now, and didn’t get flooded–weather’s been awful.

A Who-ish Season

I got a book called Doctor Who: The History of the Universe in 100 Objects for Christmas (along with two Doctor Who calendars–my parents know me!). I’ve only flicked through it so far, but I have mixed feelings about these kinds of books. As far as I can predict without reading it cover to cover, anything related to the new show I’ll already know, and anything to do with the classic series will probably spoil me majorly for when I watch the episodes in question. Which I plan to once I own the complete box set that was being advertised at the Anniversary Celebrations at London ExCel (no price or release date I noticed, but it’s obviously being planned, and about time too).

I don’t think I wrote anything about the Anniversary Celebrations for my blog, which I will rectify probably in the next post. For the moment, my two cents on the last two episodes. I went to the cinema to see the Anniversary episode, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would actually. Ten(nant) was my Doctor and I never quite got into the new style of writing either since the show changed hands (that’s not to say Moffat hasn’t done some great things, but I find it more confusing and less continuous). I was afraid the ep would be too ambitious and all energy would be put into understanding it rather than enjoying it, but I think it worked in the end. And whilst during the first watch I was dreading the end (what were they going to do with Gallifrey??) I was relieved by the actual finish. I was disappointed that Billie Piper wasn’t actually there to play Rose, and I did spot a few small plot-holes that I now can’t remember, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

I don’t think I’ve had long enough to really build an opinion of the Christmas ep. Maybe I should do a reflective paragraph on it another post.

Re-reading Potter

A recent bout of insomnia, other than spurring a tonne of fanfiction during the first night (I wish it could have been my coursework that got stuck in my head, but at least I wrote something) has made me read more, since I now stop looking at screens an hour before I try to sleep. This has meant a break from my Kindle, since it is Kindle Fire and more like a tablet than an e-reader. But it’s made me finally get around to reading some physical books again, specifically all 7 Harry Potter, which is and always will be my favourite book series.

I haven’t read them through for some time–the last time I read one, it was the seventh, and I finished the day I moved into my first uni digs (back in 2010). So it’s been a great experience re-reading them and reminding myself of all the greatest bits, especially those that never made it into the films, like my favourite quote:

It unscrews the other way”

or small details that I’d forgotten or even not noticed before, such as:

… one [task] that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform …”

(Both quotes by JK Rowling, I claim no ownership.)

Also moving through the series there were more of them, since the later ones I’ve read far fewer times. I can recite passages from the first book or two (I used to be able to do most of the first chapter) but the seventh I’m much less familiar with. Allow me to demonstrate.

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All right, I’m a geek. And it’s all approximate, I’ve hardly kept track of how many times I read each book. The only one I can be certain of is Deathly Hallows, since I read it once when it came out, once to my dad, and just finished it again two days ago.

In my “calculations” I’m allowing for audio versions and the number of times I’ve read individual passages (for example some of the earlier books I flicked through so often there’s probably at least an extra read total in addition to having read cover to cover).

Joke of the Week

(Told to me at Christmas.)

It was a cold Christmas night. A man was sitting warm by his fire, when there was a knock on the door. When he opened it, there was nobody there.

“Excuse me,” said a tiny voice. He looked around, but still couldn’t see anyone. “Excuse me, I’m down here!”

He looked down, and there on his doorstep was a snail, shivering and dusted in snow. “P-please s-sir, I’m s-so cold, could I c-come in and shelter b-by your fire?”

The man picked up the snail, and hurled it down the garden, slammed the door and returned to his chair by the fire.

The next Christmas, there was a knock on the door. The man left his warm seat by the fire to open it, but again there was nobody there.

Then a tiny voice said, “What did you do that for?”

Harry Potter Joke Books?

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“The Unofficial Harry Potter Joke and Riddle Book”, by R.U Kidding M.E. I stumbled across this in my Kindle recommendations this morning, but sadly it did not live up to expectations.

This book needs a lot of work before I would pay money for it. I didn’t need to read further than the free sample–most of the jokes are not actually HP-related apart from the author sticking a character name in front, some are Americanised and just don’t fit with the feel of the books, and there are persistent errors: in the Herbology section, Professor Sprout is consistency referred to as Madam Pomfrey. The few jokes that were actually Harry Potter jokes and I as a Brit appreciated and were factually correct, just didn’t merit paying for.

If you’re looking for a Harry Potter joke book where the author knows their stuff, I highly recommend “Harry Pottiness: A Totally Unofficial 6395927Book of Muggle Fun”.

I’ve thumbed my way through this book time and time again when needing some laughs. It’s true it’s incredibly cheesy and the jokes are BAD, but most do fall into the “so bad it’s good” category. The highlights however have to be the more creative pages, such as the Invisibility Cloak care label, and the music chart–always worth a giggle. Highly recommended, and you don’t have to be a die-hard Harry Potter fan to understand most of the jokes; having seen most of the films once is probably good enough.

Writing Stuff

Since we seem to be having a Potter themed post, why not? I don’t normally discuss my fan fiction on this blog, but as it happens, the (Harry Potter) fan fiction chapter I mentioned in my last post that got mostly wiped, I have managed to re-write to, I think, a pretty good standard. It’s a couple of hundred words shorter so I’ve obviously lost some content forever, but I’m pretty sure I covered everything I meant to cover. Even a lot of the dialogue reads like it did before, which is brilliant. My prayers have been answered. The chapter in question is actually on a story that’s not public yet, and won’t be for a long time–but that doesn’t mean I don’t write something on it when the thought strikes. It’s actually one of the sequels to Six.

Moving away from the Potter stuff, I am so close now with my coursework–just got to figure out this bibliography, and some proof-reading, and I’ll be free to work on Aquila! (And hopefully a few days’ holiday!) I got a 5 for my Children’s Writing module–I have to say I was slightly disappointed, as the first draft of one of my stories was predicted 4-6 before it was redrafted, and it means I just missed getting a First on another module. I’m not totally confident in the report I’m about to hand in, so my hopes are pinned on my Aquila script.

Pin of the Week

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