blogging

It’s Not the End of the World

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So, it’s been a while, flash fic notwithstanding. Once again my poor blog’s been neglected. But, the bright side is, I have things to report.

My script’s been making progress in leaps and bounds. There are still a lot of edits to make, but my word count is much more healthy. I may or may not post a short preview–I would like to, but would have to check whether any form of publishing even part of it would spoil my chances of having it accepted by a television company. So, we’ll see.

I have entered another fiction piece into a competition–this time, written specifically for it. The plot is a mesh of ideas I’d already had, so it wasn’t too hard to whip up in an hour or two, and I’m quite pleased with the result. The judging is ongoing, so as yet I have no idea how it’s fared; but I’m mentioning it because the writing process made me explore a different part of one of my ‘verses that I might not otherwise have written.

The short story will, I think, be set in the same universe as my one-day ficblog, although with different characters. It’s posted on IdeasTap, for the prompt ‘Apocalypse‘.

Well, the brief never said it had to be the end of THIS world.

As far as I am aware, my portfolio is visible to non-members. If you can’t view it, let me know. I’m not sure if I could post it elsewhere until the competition is over but I’ll bear it in mind.

With regard to the ficblog itself–I have written a few chapters, but it needs a lot more planning before I would feel comfortable beginning to post. So it may be a while. Especially since I want it to tie into (be the prequel to) a novel, which is still only vaguely plotted. It’s not in diary/email format, as I originally intended; I realised I could get a lot more out of the story if I wasn’t always in first person addressing the protagonist’s parents. So I suppose it’s more like a series of flash fiction, than a fictional blog.

My plan is to write the novel this November for NaNoWriMo–since I’ll have finally finished my degree by then, praise the Lord!–so hopefully I’ll have got something for you by the new year.

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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!

Milky Aurora, Gospel Poems and Fiery Redheads

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I have for the first time submitted a poem for potential publication in an anthology The Gospel According to Poetry. Today is the deadline, so keep reading to find out if it’s accepted or not. I haven’t quite decided what else I will do with the poem in question, Reasons to Sing; I will decide after I find out.

Source: onebigphoto.com via Alex on Pinterest

I’ve added some images to my website pages, including banners on the Projects page. I will be adding them to the individual pages as well, and once I have named my ‘verses I will have a re-organise and make new, better banners.

I had a go at the fan fiction prompt from my first writing prompt post, using Donna and Amy from Doctor Who. An interesting plot bunny is spiralling! I don’t think I’ll end up with another epic in my backlog, but it might merit more than one chapter. I haven’t tried the others yet, haven’t had the opportunity, but I will. I’m also in the process of coming up with more prompts for future posts, so stay tuned.

Pin of the week is a stunning photo I stumbled across when hunting for Milky Way pictures, of the Milky Way and Northern Lights together.

Link of the week: Fanfiction and Literature

When in London …

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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.

9271a1. See a West End show

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.

2. The Royal Museums, Greenwichmz3

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.

CL1to5-13. The Sherlock Holmes Museum

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.

4. The Chocolate Room, HarrowPicture1

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’.

5. The British Museumdownload

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.

jellyfish-sfSpan-v26. Try a new flavour

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!

Blog Hop!

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Thank you to MissTiffany for tagging me in the blog hop. I think I’ve figured out what I do now!

What is the (working) title of your book?

Conturbus Chronicles (1): Crossfire

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Good question. It was conceived about a week into NaNoWrimo 2011. I had almost given up participating that year, but then two plot twists came at me suddenly, which gave me a starting point and an end. The rest was pretty much improvised; I took a couple of days to brainstorm some characters, and the rest is history.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA urban fantasy adventure

Which actors and/or actresses would you choose to play your characters in the movie rendition?

I don’t know … I picture Justin as a bit like how Alex Pettyfer was in Stormbreaker, but he’s a bit older now! As for the others, I can’t think of anyone specific. I know I’d want to do as JK Rowling did, and insist on British actors, except the characters who are supposed to have an accent. I could live with Tam being played by an American since she has roots there, though I’d prefer a Brit.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Justin’s quest to find the Conturbus key before the evil Marotte takes him through a world of cape-wearing villains, dragons and vampires*, and magic that’s fully compatible with the latest smartphone.

*Not the sparkly kind!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Too early to say. I read ebooks but I would want my book in print as well, and I can’t see that being financed myself.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

If by first draft that includes the occasional scene in note form and great stretches lacking punctuation or speech tags … about three weeks. However re-reading it, about 60% needs cutting. At present I have a chapter plan, notes for future books in the series, a synopsis and the first chapter in full–so don’t hold your breath.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmm, tricky one. I did tackle this task as part of my writing course–my first chapter and synopsis formed part of my Fiction module–and found it difficult to find something quite in the same vein. The plot’s perhaps closest to the Percy Jackson series, but for older readers and without all the Greek gods.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I have to hand it to JK Rowling, if it weren’t for her I would not be a writer–or to be more precise, I would not be attempting it as a profession. And that’s nothing to do with fame and fortune, I mean her books inspired me, more than I can describe in a few sentences! I’ve been inspired by too many things (more than books) to name–television shows, photographs …

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Psychic scorpions, dragons who don’t look like dragons, a wizard hermit called Hobble, magic carpets and a smartphone app to help you find one … that enough to whet your appetite? And of course it wouldn’t be a London-based fantasy without something wacky happening on the Underground …

Now I pass this Blog Hop along to:

Thank you for reading! I’m sorry to say my novel will be some time in coming, but I’ve heard it said you can’t start talking about it too early …

Stage Fright and Tongue Tornados

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I am so close with my Genre project now. The bulk of my critique is written, I just need to do the boring stuff like reference and write a conclusion. Oh, and cut it down by a couple of hundred words. And draw one of my book covers.

My aim was to have it done by this weekend. I’m not positive that I’ll make it, but it shouldn’t be too many days afterwards. I won’t be able to do any coursework this weekend at all, what with my friend getting married on Saturday and my parents coming up Sunday to take me home for the hols. And do some cleaning. That reminds me, still need to pack. But before I do that I need to unpack the bits and bobs I shoved out of sight in bags and boxes when my agent was showing a potential tenant round my flat. That could take a while. Maybe I’ll do that Friday morning to take my mind off the Plath presentation. I don’t do public speaking, really I don’t. Just thinking about it gives me butterflies. I can’t believe I once fantasised about being a pop star. Ah well, we were all thirteen once …

I saw Oz: The Great And Powerful yesterday afternoon after my brain had lapsed. The cinema was practically empty, there was only two of us there, me and this older lady who chatted to me on the way out. Vue couldn’t have liked us much, she’d paid with a gift voucher and me by my Nectar points, so they didn’t actually make anything on that particular showing.

Oz-The-Great-and-PowerfulThe film was good. I only really cringed once, and it was one of those scenes where the audience is supposed to cringe, and thankfully it didn’t last too long. It was visually impressive, even if it hadn’t been in 3D, and the plot twisted just enough to keep me interested without confusing me. I’ve seen the original two Oz films and read the first book but I wouldn’t say I’m overly familiar with Baum’s work (nice in-joke there at the beginning though, I noticed), so I spent a while trying to work out which witch was which (yep, that was deliberate). The black-and-white opening was a nice homage to the original Oz film, though I thought it could have been cut a bit, used less build-up to the tornado. The character of Oz struck a nice balance between my wanting to help him and wanting to slap him–not the character I was expecting. I’d give the film four and a half stars, though that could change after I have read the original story for myself.

I have to ask, the WordPress pros out there, I am still a newbie blogger and have yet to understand the difference between a tag and a category. As far as I can tell, they do the same thing? How does having both benefit an author/reader?

(PS: I don’t own the image, merely borrowing it for illustrative purposes.)

Write What You Read?

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I’ve heard and read lots of writing advice, and many people say to write what you know. Also, many people say that to be a (good) writer you have to read a lot. I don’t think I’ve heard this as an actual quote, but it’s been implied, that you write what you read (like, ‘you are what you eat’).

To contest that, I’ve met many writers who struggle to find the time to read. I myself struggle to read even the required reading for my course, so when I finish a novel I’ve been reading for pleasure, it’s a pretty big deal. Contrast that to my childhood when I devoured book after book and got into trouble for reading under the desk at school. For me, the telly is an alternative that requires less effort to enjoy since it’s more passive.

Of course to an extend I think how much you get out of reading depends what you’re trying to write. In terms of format, I write prose but it’s been commented that my dialogue is quite script-like, which could be because I ‘read’ (watch) more scripts than I read prose. Since I want to be a scriptwriter, and I’ve got pretty good feedback for prose in this style, I’m not going to worry too much, though I would like to read a lot more than I do–I have so many book samples on my Kindle awaiting reading.

Genre, I think, is a more interesting one. This is all just my opinion, I am by no means saying any writers should take my word as law, but I think it is possible to write in a genre you don’t really read–although it comes with limitations. I should explain.

For a case study, take one of my novels (a work in progress), Shadow Charge. Unlike my other novel WIP, Crossfire, SC is I think pretty difficult to define as a genre. I think the closest possible descriptive would be supernatural whodunit. But on its own that doesn’t sum it up. I would say that SC is part whodunit, part ghost story, part time travel, part psychological thriller, with a touch of romance, and that description is subject to some altering between now and publication (which is not foreseeable for some years). Out of all those genre labels, I don’t read very many. Take psychological thrillers, for example. I don’t make a habit of reading them because many of them freak me out a bit. The same with ghost stories. While I have not read many whodunits, I have watched countless ones on television so I am familiar with tropes and so forth (though I have read two Agatha Christies and one Conan Doyle to date, so I’m not doing too badly).

What’s my point? Well I won’t know for certain till the novel is at a point where I get a lot of feedback on it, but the way the plot has played out I think it works–if I can iron out the wrinkles. Because the novel is such a blend of genres–when I got the initial idea, I would have called it a fantasy, but it has since become apparent that despite its links to my fantasy novel, the actual story is very different–being fluent in its genre(s) is not so vital, because it’s something new. That’s not to say I won’t continue to persue reading more whodunit etc novels. Though I have yet to come across someone who’s had an idea quite like mine. (If you know of something that crosses all those genres, please do tell me, I’d be interested to read it.) On the other hand, I would not dare to try and write a straight romance or straight psychological thriller before becoming fluent in the genre first–I don’t believe I would have the tools to make it a great, stand-out story that way.

So, some food for thought. Do any writers reading this write ‘blended’ genres? How much experience do you reckon you need for each? Please do comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.