creative writing

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.

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.

Birthday Cluedo

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Sorry I haven’t posted in a while! I hope this makes up for the gap. I wrote this piece of flash fiction as a friend’s birthday present. It’s actually the first piece of flash fiction–as opposed to drabbles, which are the fan fiction equivalent–I have written in years, that I am entirely happy with.

Personally I prefer the word ‘drabble’, but anyway … on with the piece.


The detective steepled his fingers, doing his Holmes impression whilst the suspects all filed into the room.

Colonel Mustard came first; stiff military stature, an air of cold indifference. Mrs Peacock followed shortly behind, fanning herself to try and disguise her shaking hands. Reverend Green was the first to appear calm; confident in his own innocence. Miss Scarlet slunk in alongside Mrs White, despite the intense dislike shared between them; and bringing up the rear was Professor Plum, nervously mopping his brow.

All with motive, all with opportunity. Yet, the detective had explored every option, and as they lined up nervously, waiting for him to pronounce which of them were for the noose, his eyes flickered to the guilty party, and he smiled.

“So?” The Reverend spoke first. “Which of us did it?”

“I expect you did,” said Miss Scarlet. “I saw you going into the library with the candlestick!”

“No! I thought it was Mustard with the pipe—”

“How dare you!” the Colonel blustered. “It was obviously Mrs White—”

They began squabbling amongst themselves.

“You’re all wrong,” the detective said loudly. They fell silent, miraculously.

“Well then, who was it?” the Professor asked after a moment’s pause.

The detective pointed, and they all craned their necks to see who he was indicating.

“It was,” the detective said amongst murmurs of disbelief, “the cat.”

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.

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.

 

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.

Online Graphing
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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?”