novel

Day 10 of Camp Nano

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It’s Day 10 of Camp NaNoWriMo! And I’m way above my daily target, which is awesome, as well as past my halfway point. My real deadline is actually the 25th rather than the 31, because I’ll be at camp the last week of July, but I think I’m doing all right on that front as well. The last few days I was losing it a bit, but I think I regained my stride this morning. I decided to take a break from my struggling middle of the plot, and write some of the backstory. During the process of writing that, I not only captured the origin of a particular character, but also came up with more detail for his sister’s story, which enabled me to go back to a scene later on and add in more there.

The following is the beginning of the scene, a rough draft that’s been only slightly edited to give the fruit a name and so it makes grammatical sense. I chose not to post the whole thing because … well, it ended on an even bigger cliffhanger.


 

“Come on, Mirry, keep up!”

Maxie didn’t wait for his sister to answer, but plunged further into the woods. He loved Mirady, she was his best friend in the whole wide world, but little sisters were so slow.

“Maxie, wait for me!”

“We’ll never get there if you don’t keep up!” he said, irritated. “I want to see a Quinya tree!”

“You’re too fast!”

Maxie stopped with a heavy sigh. “All right, all right! We’ll never get back in time at this rate. Come on, I’ll give you a lift.”

Rustling undergrowth and panting breath announced her getting closer to him. Once Mirady reached Maxie, he lifted her up on his back, giving her a piggy back ride.

“Oof! You’re heavy!”

“I am not!”

“Let’s just go. I don’t want Father finding out where we went or he’ll be livid. Hold tight. No, not that tight! I still need to breathe!”

He jogged off into the wilderness, as fast as he could with an eight-year-old hanging on his back, arms clinging around his neck. It slowed him down, but hopefully without having to stop for her shorter legs to catch up all the time, they would get there quickly enough to be able to return before Father’s important meeting ended and he realised they were no longer playing in the street.

He panted, his ribs and back starting to ache. At eleven years old, he was much bigger than his little sister, but she was still practically a dead weight. Father would not approve; he would say Maxie needed to practice at being a man, meaning, among other things, being able to carry heavy loads. Except he wouldn’t say ‘Maxie’—only Mirady ever called him that nowadays, ever since their mother had died. Now everyone save his sister called him by his full name, Maximilian. He didn’t like it, he much preferred Maxie.

“Are we nearly there yet?” Mirady asked from somewhere above his shoulder.

“Yes, nearly!” That was a guess; in truth Maxie thought he might be lost. The conversation they had eavesdropped on (not on purpose, of course; well behaved children should never listen in on adults’ conversations), Father’s colleague had told him where he could find the Quinya tree, and she had said to leave the path at the lightning struck oak and head north. Since Maxie had no compass, he had had to work out the direction from what he could see of the sun’s position, which was not easy and he was not positive he had got it absolutely correct.

But on the plus side, at least Quinya glowed when it was still attached to the tree, so hopefully if their direction was a bit off, they would be able to see it anyway.

Maxie was excited. He had only ever seen Quinya before when it had been processed into Quops, small drops of golden jelly, and then it had been the most fascinating moment of his life. He had had trouble believing that such a tiny thing could be overflowing with magic, and that anyone who ate one would be able to pull off the most complex and powerful spells. Quinya was the most powerful magic source, and the rarest, and he had only ever seen one single Quop. Father dealt in magic sources, but most of the time he kept his goods to himself.

Magic had always fascinated Maxie, even more than it fascinated any child. He wanted to be a magician when he was grown up, but only the luckiest people got the training for it. Father wanted him to follow his footsteps into dealing in magic sources, not using them himself.

As Maxie hunted for the tree, a crazy thought came to him. Maybe if he could prove he was cut out to be a magician, Father would reconsider. If Father was on his side, and approved his dreams, he could get him the training he needed to achieve them. But to do that, he needed a magic source to begin with.

Maybe if he picked one of the Quinya …

“There!” Mirady squealed suddenly, almost deafening Maxie. He couldn’t believe she had seen the tree first—he had been too engrossed in his daydreams to realise they had reached the end of their quest.

The tree stood alone in the centre of a clearing, and gave off a kind of aura. It wasn’t the fruit alone—although the Quinya were indeed glowing a yellow-pink colour, Maxie could feel the power radiating from the tree from about twenty feet away.

He dropped Mirady, who yelled, “Ouch!”

“Sorry,” he said, but his eyes and thoughts were fixed firmly on the fruit. He stared, entranced.

“They’re amazing,” Mirady said, but she didn’t seem keen on getting any nearer. Maxie, on the other hand, was all too keen on it.

“Maxie?” she asked hesitantly and he began walking forwards. “I don’t think we should get too close. Father says they’re dangerous.”

He barely heard her, too intent on getting one of them. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he didn’t care. He felt drawn to the fruit, as if it were deliberately pulling him in, whispering promises that it could help him achieve his dreams.

“Maxie!” Now Mirady sounded frightened. She also sounded very far away.

Maxie reached the tree, and reached out a hand, brushing the skin of one of the Quinya. It was soft as a peach and sent tingles all through his body, as if he had been struck by lightning.

Someone ran up to him and grabbed his arm, trying to pull him away. “Maxie, come on, let’s go!”

“Not yet,” he grunted, shaking his sister off of him. He grasped a Quinya and pulled.

“What are you doing? No!” Mirady cried as he lifted it to his lips. “You can’t! It’s too strong, it has to be processed! MAXIE!” She tried to pull it out of his grip, she tried stamping on his feet, even punching him, but he pushed her away so hard she fell down hard with a crack. She began sobbing.

Maxie ignored her and bit into the Quinya.

From the moment a single drop of juice touched his tongue, his mind exploded.


 

In addition to the above scene, I also have a new scene posted on my NaNo profile.

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!

Crazy Convos and Christie

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Review of “The Christie Curse” by Victoria Abbott

15808728I can start by saying that the book met the two primary objectives of the whodunit genre: one, I didn’t work out whodunit straight away, and two, the narrative kept me hooked till the end.

As for the plot, “The Christie Curse” is a mystery about a supposedly lost Agatha Christie play, which is linked to a possible murder. The protagonist, Jordan Bingham, is relatable enough despite most readers probably weren’t raised by crooks as she was. Her job, to track down the play for her book-collecting, dragon of an employer, quickly looks to be dangerous but she continues stubbornly at it—if only to keep her luscious room and meals at the Van Alst manor house. She is a little too quick to point the finger but that only makes her more human.

The mystery itself is intriguing. Whilst I guessed about the cat quite early on, I only realised whodunit a few sentences before it was actually stated—about the right time, in my view, for the reader to work it out. A few scenes ran tingles up my spine, but there was nothing at all thriller-rish about the book—overall it’s what I think is called a ‘cosy’ mystery. There was definitely a Christie element, though you don’t have to be particularly familiar with her works to read the story.

I enjoyed every moment of the book, and highly recommend it. The best thing is, it’s the first in a series, and I believe the second one is out now.

Insane Facebook Conversation

My friend gave me permission to post this here. I had to save it for posterity. Possibly the most bonkers conversation I ever had, except maybe with the lady in New York who could tell I was English just from my complexion (apparently).

Me: I think my computer’s got Chizpurfles[1].

Friend: Oh dear … This is what happens when you exterminate all the Doxies in your home. Doxies feed primarily on dead skin cells and Chizpurfles.

Me: Hmm. I guess I shouldn’t have bought all that Doxycide from amazon.wiz—what a waste of Galleons. I should have trained them to guard my electrical items instead. Especially my TARDIS[2], it’s been crashing for weeks. Mr Scamander should have informed me. That book of his has some serious gaps.

Friend: Scamander? The Scamander prejudice against Doxies is well known. I’m surprised you hadn’t heard. They all despise Doxies and have advocated the complete extermination of the entire species. There was an article about it in the Prophet the other day, I’ll send it to you by owl when I find it. As for your TARDIS, I find when mine is malfunctioning, a good kick to the console tends to fix it for a while. Alternatively, I’ve heard that some people have luck with blue or green jello.

Me: Scamander? Prejudices? Well I never. Thank you very much for the article. I’m a Quibbler reader myself, hence why I didn’t see it. I would kick my TARDIS, but it was rather delicate before those pests got at it. I could try the jelly, if I had some. My first instinct was a powerful Reparo, but I’m afraid of the whole magic vs electronics clash.

Friend: Just once, I tried an enlargement charm on a computer screen, I was trying to turn it into a TV you see, and nothing happened except that all the actors, characters and animals on the screen seemed to have red eyes. It was a bit unsettling after a while. Since then, I prefer not to mix the two, just in case. I wouldn’t try it on something the size of a TARDIS. I suppose you could hire a Jedi mechanic … I mean, the Force is, after all, as much magic as science … but it could be expensive.

Me: Bro, help, I need Star Wars knowledge for a comeback.

Bro: May the unhelpful quote be with you.

Friend: Victory is mine

Me: [struggles to think of something witty to say about the currency in Star Wars—what IS the currency in Star Wars???] You are no longer my brother.

Bro: [grins inanely—at least, that’s what I reckon he did though I wasn’t actually there]

Footnotes

[1] Chizpurfle: a pest (from Harry Potter, but mentioned only in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) which feeds on magic or, in the absence of such, “has been known to attack electrical objects … explaining the puzzling failure of many relatively new Muggle artifacts” (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, page 7 footnote.)

[2] My phone, which has a TARDIS skin.

Pin of the week

bronz-abstract-phoenix

If anyone can help me properly embed a Pin so it SHOWS UP properly, please get in touch! At the moment I’m having to save the pics and upload them. The guidance on Pinterest is not working.

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
Create a chart

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?”

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

I’m Back!

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Firstly, apologies for the gap in posting. I’ve been dealing with a lack of internet making life difficult, and then went on holiday. I’ve just come back from the Isle of Wight yesterday.

It was a good trip, though like every year I’ve had the C-word (coursework) hanging over me preventing me from truly being able to relax. Still I enjoyed seeing the countryside, doing some tourist-y stuff, and was even inspired for two stories–neither of which I am going to give a lot of detail on now, but I will say that one was inspired by the Garlic Farm and the other by Carisbrooke Castle*.

I didn’t manage to write any more poetry, but then when I do write poetry it seems to come in batches–I go through a phase of it coming easily to me, and then for ages without anything. That’s writing, I guess. I recently managed to make some headway on Crossfire, totalling my chapters written from one and a half to two and a half-ish (I know–sounds abundant!). I have a long to-do list for that novel (series) of things like names that I haven’t decided on yet. It’s a bit of a hinder, though I suppose the constant coursework doesn’t help either …

Still, I’m hoping to have my current essay (well the essay’s done, it’s the annotated bibliography that’s taking my energy now) done by August, and my second essay done by the time I see my friends from my old church at Westpoint, leaving me free to enjoy the summer … in September.

Now my internet’s sorted I think I’ll hunt down some more poetry competitions/anthologies to submit to, see if I can graduate with an impressive CV–after all, my illness has prevented me from partaking in extra-curricular stuff, so a list of publications can only help my job prospects! I’d love to enter fiction competitions as well, but am rarely inspired by prompts, and for open things I just don’t know what to submit. I just don’t have the energy to invest in writing something suitable; apart from Reasons to Sing, which was written specifically for the anthology, I just enter a poem I’ve already written.

I have a feeling I’ve entered Let Them Eat Cake into a competition somewhere, but I can’t remember if, when or where. Better not send that one anywhere till I know for certain!

Pin of the week:
the-only-12-1-2-writing-rules-you-ll-ever-need

*I say inspired by, it was more that the visit reminded me of one of my childhood daydreams and I realised it would make a good children’s book.

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 …