Tuesday, November 2, 2010

When the Tenses Start to Blend...

... you know you should stop writing your Nanowrimo novel and clean the fluff out of your brain. Like today... which was a good day, in that I somehow managed to write over 10 000 words of utter crap. I'm thinking of it as my 'buffer zone' for when exam study becomes a pressing necessity rather than a faraway possibility.

But 10 000 words in I still haven't decided whether I'm writing in first person or third person, or even which tense I'm currently using. So I go from Mia's POV to narrating what she does, and then I realise it's time to stop.

For some reason, I cannot decide whether I want to write in first or third person. Perhaps I want to keep my options open. Perhaps I'm just going mental. I even made my characters diss Tim Winton, a WA author I admire quite a lot. But I knew I'd lost control of my story when my character went on a two-page rant chewing up my favourite books of all time, namely Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and Pride and Prejudice. And that was when I realised... there is no way I can make Mia Sargent sound like she isn't a whiny little brat.

...Also, judging from my taste in books, I'm also a walking cliché. But then perhaps that shouldn't come as a surprise. XD

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fear the Blank Page: It's Only Too True

November the first is here. Oh, my. And because I'm on study break and technically studying for Psychology, what I'm actually doing is staring at the computer screen too terrified to open a blank document and type the title of my novel at the top of the page. Numerous questions come to my mind. Does the title count as three notches in my 50 000 words? Is it immoral to count 'Chapter One' as two words? And just how much Earl Grey tea is it possible for one teenage girl to drink before exploding?

As anxious as I am to answer these questions and more, what is most confusing for me at this point is just why I cannot bring myself to open Word and get cracking with something I've been waiting to do since the beginning of the year, or even November last year. What is it? Cold feet? Jitters? A sudden and inexplicable drop in self-esteem? Or perhaps it's the fact that I want to shoot myself in the foot for spending hours reading Twilight as research for my novel, time possibly better spent learning to use a loom, teaching the principles of Zen Buddhism to iguanas, or planning an elaborately staged game of Simon Says in front of the town hall. Kudos to the people who are already past the 4000 word mark only a few hours into November. I salute you, and wish I had your resolve.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dreams of Darkness: Nano Approaches!

So there's only one more day before Nanowrimo begins, and I am excited. Have I mentioned that? Perhaps a few times. So as the sounds of rabid pre-teens dressed as ghosts, vampires and Miley Cyrus fade away down my deceptively dark driveway I thought I would upload the blurb for my novel, and the cover. Perhaps my Miss Havisham-like confinement to the house on a Sunday night and my intense dislike of small children might perhaps make me question my attitudes towards life, tonight I couldn't care less. And why? Because I'm about to write what I hope will be my most well-thought out and fun story yet... in just thirty days.

Yes, I think I can honestly say I have never planned so hard or researched so much for anything I've ever written before. And now that I'm actually here, I'm gripped with a nervous fear; what if I open up Word tomorrow and have absolutely no idea what to write? Worse still, what if I write ten words of such complete and utter garbage that I'm forced to abandon the entire project and take up something less challenging than writing a novel, like piranha-baiting or designing ballerina outfits for small, vicious, and underfed Chihuahuas....

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review: Immortal: Love Stories With Bite

Immortal: Love Stories With Bite was a book I picked up in the hopes of finding some inspirational material for my Nanowrimo novel. I was looking for a variety of vampire love stories which could perhaps expose some of the reasons why teenagers love reading vampire fiction so much. What I didn't expect to find, upon opening the book, was an introduction by the editor P.C. Cast, which actually answered so many of my own questions. Aside from the perhaps forgivable plug for her own series of vampire stories, Cast suggested the reason so many teenagers identify with vampire stories is the seductive idea of immortality. I must admit this hadn't really crossed my mind, so I was pleasantly surprised.

But the book itself; it's an anthology of vampire stories by contemporary writers. To sum it up is difficult considering there were stories I liked much better than others. So I'll just look at each of them in turn.

Oh, Yes, It's That Nano Time of Year...

This year, I told myself in mid-October, I will plan my Nanowrimo novel down to the last minute detail.

And I must admit that, for the most part, I was fairly honest with myself. Not having done Nanowrimo last year I was determined that nothing short of nuclear holocaust would stop me from writing a 50 000 word novel in November. And even then I probably would have tried to scribble a few words on the back of abandoned factory walls, dipping my finger in green radioactive goo and keeping track of my wordcount by making notches in a permanently smoking Seaworld fishtank.

But as the long days of October crept by, I found myself itching to actually start planning now. I've heard lots of people say it's never too early to begin planning for Nanowrimo, but then again I felt strangely as if there was simply too much of October left to begin contemplating what I would do in far-distant November...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rainy Day Reading

Vampires, werewolves, and... Edinburgh dinner parties? Yes, since the mid-semester break offered me the opportunity to dig deep into the local library shelves, I've been such a frequent visitor during the rainy months that I'm pretty sure the librarians will start inviting me round for tea at their houses pretty soon.

No, it's not beyond the point of exaggeration; I'm reading a bizarre assortment of titles. For one, I've re-established my love for Alexander McCall Smith, finally finding time to catch up with the Isabel Dalhousie series (there's nothing like McCall Smith's Edinburgh stories to dispel the gloom of the winter months) and the 44 Scotland Street stories. It's funny how some books can be seasonal; more enjoyable to read in winter than in summer. Perhaps it's because I can sit down and enjoy a cup of tea while reading the Isabel Dalhousie novels (the story of a forty-something Edinburgh philosopher who uncannily seems to find herself drawn to mysteries in the city and the past) but I couldn't really imagine reading McCall Smith's most famous series, The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency, in any other setting other than beside the pool or on the beach at the close of a scorching hot day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's Tough on Those Offspring...

Every once in a while there'll be a slump in the television shows on. You know what it's like; every time you switch on the television there's some stupid reality show about cops training dogs to sniff people's luggage at airports, or aspiring chefs trying to impress a panel of fat, overpaid foodies with their ridiculously sculpted creations not nourishing enough to keep even a small child from starvation. (Don't get me wrong. Masterchef is a lot better than many of the television shows out there, and at least it's creative and constructive, but ten minutes of it makes me want to go to sleep. Although I suppose it's better than making me want to stuff my face...) Naturally, you find yourself going back to more old-fashioned forms of entertainment; for me, that's often reading book after book inbetween schoolwork. Making a serious dent in your To-Read list is great, but there are times when television is indispensable as a way of just unwinding.

That's where Offspring comes in. Last night, here in Australia, a new drama series aired on Channel 10 which I think has a lot of potential. After a myriad of fairly average grunge-city cop shows and the gritty Underbelly, it's a relief to finally see a more down-to-earth drama series produced in Australia....

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Glee, and More Hoorays...

First of all, I was very excited to see Neil Patrick Harris (Barney from How I Met Your Mother) appear in an episode of Glee last week. Funnily enough, I had no idea he could sing....

The Dream On episode was, I think, much better than the last few, which I found a little lacking considering how awesome the Madonna episode was. There was a little bit too much focus on main members of the Glee club and the teachers' romantic problems in particular, so it was nice to see the less prominent members of Glee get a little face time....Though I must admit I do miss the episodes where Sue is prominent. She's an awesome character, the sort of character you love to hate...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

WOW Hoorays and Killer Bees.

I know it sounds silly, but I truly didn't imagine that it had been so long that I hadn't posted anything since February. Wow. I'll put that into context for you: the last time I posted something here, China threw a surprise birthday party for Mugabe. (How sweet of them. D'you think they had icecream cake? Gotta have icecream cake, or else it's not a real party. Also fairy bread.) The last time I posted, Odeon cinemas had sworn to boycott Alice in Wonderland. (Aww.) And the last time I posted, the Columbian President told the Venezuelan President to (quote) "be a man". (Thank you, Wikipedia!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

365: Word Count

Today's word count is 1731. I'm pretty happy with that; it's about two chapters in Mr Feathercott's Business. Here's a little sample:

“Good morning, Mr Feathercott.”
Mr Feathercott would have ignored her, had not the infuriating manners of his youth forced him to return the salutation.
“I trust you slept well, Mrs Feathercott,”
“Yes, Mr Feathercott.”
“How comforting. I had a very unpleasant evening,” Mr Feathercott said, still not looking up from his meagre meal. The smell of bacon and eggs made him stomach turn rather abruptly.
“Oh?” Mrs Feathercott replied, clearly preoccupied.
Mr Feathercott was not satisfied with this. His wife, surely, should show more concern for his welfare! He wanted to complain, moreover, of her lack of support the night before. But complaining would mean recalling the disagreeable events of the previous evening, and Mr Feathercott did not wish to be confronted with this.
They breakfasted largely in silence, with Mrs Feathercott eating with a healthy appetite and Mr Feathercott regarding the glistening bacon with a look halfway between disgust and desire. Their repast was nearing an end when a small figure entered by the side door which led to the kitchen...

The Right Place to Write?

I've been doing a little bit of catch-up blog reading before university starts again, and YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday for this week (or rather, last week, as it turns out...) asks where your favourite place to write is. Now, I'm going to be cliched and say that I need to write somewhere quiet. Since I do most of my writing on the computer nowadays, it's often at my desk. Wherever I end up, it has to be a very quiet, private place. I can't work with distractions all around me (and in my house distractions are a way of life!) so my room is the obvious choice. I tend to write in bed, especially when it's down on paper. But I actually find this incredibly uncomfortable.

Ideally, I'd love a hammock or a comfy sunlounge somewhere. I like being out in the daylight and feeling the breeze around me; it makes me feel a little more connected to the world around me when I'm in my hermit-like writing mode.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mr Feathercott's Business, Chapter One

Had one wandered up a remote London road one gloomy Tuesday in 1957 one might have observed Mr Feathercott making his way home, his impeccably trimmed whiskers drooping in the chill evening air.
On the other hand one might not have; for Mr Feathercott was a singularly unremarkable character, with his wilting whiskers and his crushed bowler hat. Mr Feathercott, alas, was the last of a race of rather ordinary Victorian gentlemen, now nearing his seventieth year, and with no notable achievements in his long life to single him out for fame and fortune. Born to a dying race, Mr Feathercott had lived much of his life in obscurity. He had once brushed the hand of celebrity with his overly large nose when he had, after the unfortunate drowning of his elder brother (unfortunate insofar as it brought his heretofore ignorant brother into some sort of renown) come to a moderate inheritance. Moderate it was indeed, for ‘moderate’ was a word which could be applied to Mr Feathercott from the tip of his frayed bowler to the toes of his unpolished brown shoes.

Mr Feathercott's Business

Had one wandered up a remote London road one gloomy Tuesday in 1957 one might have observed Mr Feathercott making his way home, his impeccably trimmed whiskers drooping in the chill evening air.
On the other hand one might not have; for Mr Feathercott was a singularly unremarkable character, with his wilting whiskers and his crushed bowler hat. Mr Feathercott, alas, was the last of a race of rather ordinary Victorian gentlemen, now nearing his seventieth year, and with no notable achievements in his long life to single him out for fame and fortune.

Mr Feathercott's Business chronicles the lives of the Feathercott family - Mr Feathercott, his wife Esther, and his three daughters - over the course of the '50s and '60s.

Life in the Feathercott household follows a well-defined and inescapable order. Mr Feathercott, the aging academic, spends his life pondering Mr Dickens and snoozing in his favourite chair by the fire. His dissatisfied wife Esther, twenty years his junior, has long ago faded into the throes of middle age yet she cannot forget the encounter with a handsome ginger-whiskered man more than two decades ago.
But times are changing, and Mr Feathercott's carefully ordered world is being systematically eroded piece by piece. His daughter Maud, newly wed to the charming and devastatingly handsome Peter, cannot wait to escape to Chicago with her husband. Elizabeth, the eldest daughter, is busy raising a family and caring for her own husband, but she finds herself unconsciously drifting towards music stands and record stores when the soulful tunes of the King of Rock 'n' Roll are heard. And as for Gladys, the Feathercott's youngest daughter - well, nobody speaks of her, save in a lowered voice as if afraid that the gossip will spread on telepathic thought waves.
Useless, archaic and mildly irritating, Mr Feathercott's world will be turned upside down. And it all begins with an encounter in a deserted pantry...

Chapter One

Friday, February 19, 2010

Project 365: Soul Catchers, Chapter One

When one considers soul’s mates, one thinks of three words; destiny, love, and impossibility.
Destiny operated on a tight schedule in the kingdom of Stillvalley. While in other universes Destiny might be known for her fickleness, in Stillvalley she was as sharp as a needle and just as likely to prick you till you bled. She ran an efficient operation and never failed to reward heavy tippers. It was her duty to ensure that each and every being in Stillvalley, from the lowliest flea to the mightiest beast, had a soul’s mate. And she had never missed one single solitary creature.
Well. Not yet, anyway.

Soul Catchers

Destiny has your soul.

What if there was a place where there was a somebody for everybody? In the kingdom of Stillvalley, everyone has a soulmate - whether they like it or not.

But when one young farm girl appears to flout destiny and reach her sixteenth birthday without her soul's mate, danger threatens to cloud Stillvalley and destroy it from the outside in. The King's Wards are slipping, allowing contingents of the kingdom's most deadly enemies, the elves, to enter by stealth and destroy Stillvalley.

Only Alunah, the farm girl who managed to escape destiny, can save the kingdom now. Accompanied by a poacher called Wren and armed only with her handy sickle, Alunah must travel to Stillvalley Castle and consult the most famous witch in the land. But Alunah's quest to find her soul's mate and save the kingdom will change the way she views the world forever. Loyalties will be tested, fears realised, and nothing in Stillvalley will ever be the same.

Chapter One

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Project 365

It's the time of year to make New Year's Resolutions, so here's mine; I'm going to complete the 365 Days Challenge by this time next year.

Run by the amazing Scribbler's Abode, Project 365 challenges you to do something creative - photography, art, or writing - each day, every day, for an entire year. So I've decided to apply it to my writing, and I'll be posting snippets, short stories and excerpts as I go. The 365 logo shows that this piece is a part of the challenge, but for all my WIPs I'll still have a little icon to show which story it belongs to. The main story I'll be focusing on this year is Mr Feathercott's Business, and I'll post up the summary for that very soon.

Last night I wrote a short story which I hope to post up soon; it was really just to get into the mood, but I'll say this now; I'm really excited about this challenge. It's something to keep me motivated and focused, and I sincerely hope it will help my writing too.