Tuesday, December 07, 2010

NaNo Been and Gone

Sorry for not blogging for a while. I have been ill with that seasonal flu/cold thing that everyone's got - you know, the one that fells grown men and makes them whimper for their mothers. That one.

Anyhow, where were we? Oh yeah. I was doing NaNoWriMo - and I won! I wrote 1 first draft and started on the sequel of my new series about Matti and her cosmically-powered arch-rival younger sister Eva.

The plan now is to continue with the sequel whilst looking at the first structurally and adding the scenes that are missing. After that, I shall polish the characters and the language, whilst looking at the structure of the sequel. Once the first one is finished and the sequel almost done, then if I'm still excited by the project I shall start batting it around agents. I also want to turn the first one into a film/ TV script.

So on the whole, NaNoWriMo has been beneficial for me. I have a whole new series to focus on, and the process has dragged me out of the rut that I wasn't really aware I was in until I escaped it. Even though I'm still a bit germ-ridden, I am a little lighter in step as a result.

To get you into the Christmas spirit, here is a song from my mate's band, The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, from their new EP 'A Very Steampunk Christmas'. Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

68% Complete!

My word count currently stands at 35,310 and all is going well. So far over the course of my novel, normal teenager Matti Brennoch has discovered she has superpowers, been shot, uncovered a seedy government plot, fallen in love, stolen someone's boyfriend, and cured her best friend of fatal poisoning. There are various different strands to my plot that I will have to look at during my second draft, but I'm quite pleased with my novel so far. I haven't killed anyone yet (aside from a few baddies, but they don't count really), but there's a big death coming up that I'm really looking forward to writing.

I read an article about Julia Crouch and how she sold her NaNoWriMo novel, and it was really interesting to read, especially the advice about rewriting afterwards. That is still my weakness, but practice makes perfect, as they say. http://blog.lettersandlight.org/post/1620920450/i-sold-my-nanowrimo-novel-a-q-a-with-julia-crouch

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Story So Far

I don't have a lot of time to write for NaNoWriMo. It was idiotic of me to decide to do it, what with having a lead role in a musical and working a full time job.
But I'm getting it done. Slowly but surely, my word count creeps up. So far, I like my story, and my lead character isn't annoying me (always a good sign). Plus, I have the sequel in mind already.
Right now, almost mid-way through, and I think I'm going to experiment with the plot a little bit for 10 thousand words. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, November 05, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 5

Day 5 of NaNoWriMo and I'm really enjoying myself. My story is going well so far, with what I am considering a very "Joss Whedon"-esque opening sequence (though others might disagree that it is). I think I may have hit on an idea for a possible series, expanded from this story. Matti and Eva are currently 17 and 14 respectively, but I have ideas for what they would both be like as adults and the story is expanding so that there is scope to follow these girls out of adolescence and into adulthood and see how their powers develop.
I've spoken to a few people who don't believe that NaNoWriMo is a good thing, that it only produces dross, that it's not productive, etc. Mostly I think they believe this because they've never been able to do it (ouch), but I'll summarise very quickly (I have a novel to write, you know):

Why NaNoWriMo Is Good
By Lucy Wade, aged 30 in exactly 20 days.

1. NaNoWriMo gives you a legitimate excuse to fob off friends and relatives and actually do some writing.
2. Even if you don't hit your daily word target, the fact that you are writing daily means you are probably going to be more productive than if you weren't doing NaNoWriMo in the first place.
3. It is an ideal way to write a first draft of an idea you want to develop - like one 50,000 word treatment. You can play around with tone, plot, structure, narrative devises, until your heart is content.
4. You can tell very quickly if the idea you've been toying with has enough steam to become a novel. If you're finding it difficult to write even 10,000 words, then it might not be developed enough at this stage...
5. But that's also a good thing, because not only have you saved yourself potentially 10 years figuring out that your idea is lousy, you now have a month to fix it! Or evolve it into something completely random and new. Never will your imagination be so free!
6. Developing the discipline to write 1,667 words a day (or possibly more) is a major achievement in itself. Turn off that TV. Don’t stop for yet another tea break. Just do it!
7. You get an immense feeling of satisfaction when you finish. You know afterwards that you are capable of writing something novel/novella sized - yes, it may be riddled with typos, and characters that change name, or eye-colour, or gender half-way through, as well as plot holes the size of the Grand Canyon, but isn't that normal for first drafts?
8. There's an excellent sense of community, one that doesn't normally exist for writer's at other times of the year. Over the course of November, you have 172,000 other writers sharing your journey and cheering you on, helping you out of tricky spots with suggestions on the forum, or providing you with procrastination when you think you can't type any more.
9. You have to write 50,000 words by midnight 30th November, but there is no adjudicator as to "what" those words are. You could simply write "NaNoWriMo is great" over and over again until you hit your target, but you don't, because it would only be cheating yourself. Giving yourself permission to try and seeing what your imagination has in store for you is one of the best, one of the most liberating experiences.
10. It is free, and you get a certificate at the end.

OK. Kinda trickled off at the end there. Anyway. Time to write another 1,000 words of my novel. Happy Diwali and Bonfire Night!

Monday, November 01, 2010

And We're Off!

NaNoWriMo starts today, and, because I have rehearsal tonight, I don't think that I'm going to hit my daily target of 1,667 words. But I'm not too far off! I am quite pleased with the opening scene I have written - yes, the dialogue and description needs work, but overall, not too dire.

If you'd like to befriend me on the NaNoWriMo site (and please do!) I can be found at:


Good luck to fellow NaNo-nites!

Friday, October 22, 2010


My writing is now back on track. I've begun to catalogue what currently happens in Dorcas Grubb, chapter by chapter (one more to go), and can already see the major faults and where I'll need to rewrite and create new story. I've also begun to story board it as a graphic novel - I thought back when I was writing it that it would make a great comic, mainly due to the scene at the end with the giant time vortex ripping between Memorial Arch in Leicester, so thought I'd give it a go.

It's also almost NaNoWriMo time. It's really crept up on me this year. I've re-registered with the site, but haven't given any more thought to the story I'll be writing for it. My head is too full of Dorcas, and I'm not rewriting that as part of NaNoWriMo because I need time to contemplate and improve and polish and NaNoWriMo really isn't that place. NaNoWriMo is the place for spitting out ideas, tapping into that dream state and silencing that inner critic to give the imagination free reign for one whole month. I am registered on the website as "Grizabella", so if you're NaNoWriMo-ing yourself, feel free to add me as a buddy.

Rehearsals for Return To The Forbidden Planet are continuing to go well. It is on February 21st - 26th 2011 and ticket information is available here: http://www.concordiatheatre.co.uk/showguide/showdetail.asp?Key=76

Monday, October 18, 2010

Number of words written since last blog post (not counting this blog post): 0

Must try harder. Much harder. Fail.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cleaning Up Dorcas Grubb

I am currently working on fixing the first draft of Dorcas Grubb. The chronology is all over the place – not good anyway, but especially here where the story is about time travel! It's a mess, and is taking me ages to get through even the preliminary stuff. On top of that, I am drawing up my plan for this year's NaNoWriMo novel, which is the “Matti and Eva” story. So far, I have a plan for 10 chapters (or “sections”) that will be 5,000 words each and represent a different stage in the sisters' relationships. The plan will no doubt change a lot between now and November 1st, but at least I have something I can work with.
To be honest, my writing is frustrating me at the moment. It is because I have less time to dedicate to it, due to work commitments and my rehearsals, and because I'm mainly doing planning and editing, I don't have any real sense of accomplishment, and feel like I don't have anything to show for the time that I have spent. Of course, technically I do have something to show for it, be it a freshly scribbled on page of corrections or a 10-chapter plan for a NaNo novel, but still. It's not like it's a finished chapter of a book, or a short story that I can submit somewhere.
I think I am going to have to start dedicating one of my weekend days to writing again, just like I did when I was finishing off Inter Vivos. After all, if you want to be a writer, then you have to write! Hopefully then I shall start to feel better.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rehearsals and a New Story

At the moment, rehearsals are consuming most of my time. I had forgotten how good doing a show makes you feel. It's all those endorphins, probably. It is so good to be singing again. In this show, I get to go back to my "alto" roots, after singing mezzo- and top-soprano for the past 5 years. Apparently, my alto voice is "sultry and powerful". :-) I was even given chocolates after yesterday's rehearsal, so can't be doing too badly.

I've also been working on a new short story, about a girl who gets possessed by a symbiont on her 16th birthday. I'm up to the point where she's got the thing inside her, but don't know what to do next. Am going to send it around to a few people to read, and hopefully their feedback will help me see where the story is going. I kinda like what I've got so far, so am a bit loathe to throw away the story just on the basis that I can't figure out what's going on! This is where having understanding but honest people who you can bounce ideas off is great.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rehearsals and Dorcas

Rehearsals for Return To The Forbidden Planet are going well. Last night we set "It's A Man's World" and it was the first time I got to sing and act in front of the rest of the cast. It was a really fun night, though I'm feeling very tired right now. The show doesn't stop - it goes straight from one number to the next, and is really testing my stamina. At least I'll be a lot fitter after it's all over.

On the writing side of things, I've submitted a story to an anthology, so fingers crossed on that one. I've also decided to write a second draft of Dorcas Grubb, whilst I'm waiting for NaNoWriMo to start. So far I'm up to the second chapter. I reread it recently, and was surprised at how sad the story is, which I think is just about right; if your main character has just lost their father, then I think they would and should be sad. I suppose the story is as much about a family dealing with their grief as it is about time travelling adventures.

I do enjoy being busy. Does that make me weird? :-)

Monday, September 13, 2010


I'm not sure what to do for NaNoWriMo this year. I still want to take part - I find it very useful as a motivational tool and also it's great for getting first drafts out of your head. It will be difficult what with rehearsals and work and all, but I'd like to give it a go. Perhaps I should write my "Matti and Eva" story - it's not coming along too well at the moment, as I'm still hammering out the logistics, so giving it the NaNoWriMo treatment might be good. I don't have anything else up my sleeve in any case.

If you haven't attempted NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) before, I would definitely recommend doing it. It teaches you about discipline - making yourself write those 1,667 words a day no matter what. It also teaches you to silence your inner critic, a trick that increases productivity and can be used afterwards when writing first drafts (you'll need that inner critic back again though for draft 2!). But most importantly, NaNoWriMo shows you that you can complete something, that it is possible to write a novel, and when you write those two magic words "the end" on 30th November, it's quite rightly accompanied by a humongous sense of achievement. For further info visit http://www.nanowrimo.org/

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

So, my audition on Sunday was successful and I got the part of the Science Officer in Return to the Forbidden Planet! It is very strange, and it still hasn't sunk in properly; I guess because I didn't think I'd get either of the female parts. I just went into the audition room, knees shaking a little (literally) and had a good old sing, and I got the part. So I'm going to have to work hard on learning my lines and learning my songs. It's a really silly show (in a good way) - at the end of the 1st act I get attacked by a giant tentacle - and it should be fun to do. The rest of the cast are brilliant. Hopefully I'll be good in it. I'll try my best, at any rate. The video above isn't me or from the production I'm in, but it gives you an idea about the type of show this is (the clip is Miranda singing "Teenager in Love").

This does mean though that I'm now over in Hinckley every Monday and Thursday night until the middle of February. So I need to structure my time a bit better to make sure I can fit in work and my writing. Wednesdays I still go to Speculators, which has been a real help in motivating me to complete the things I'm working on. On Tuesdays and Fridays I will have to go to the library after work to get stuff done. Not sure how I'm going to fit NaNoWriMo into all this, though I've completed it before whilst doing a show, so I'll just have to make it happen.

Going to be a tad busy for the next four months.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

To Do List

Things I need to do:

1) Practice for my audition on Sunday for Return to the Forbidden Planet.
2) Finish off the short story that I'm writing about a selkie, trying to avoid as far as possible having to describe what I will delicately describe as "seal cuddles".
3) Finish chapter 1 take 2 of my Matti and Eva story.

I will not be distracted by:

1) Curse of the Wolf Girl (this book is sucking away my life, so engrossing it is).
2) The Sims 2
3) Judge Judy

That is all.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Last week was the busiest time of year for my job (I work at a University and the A-level results were released), but thankfully everything is quietening down now and I can find time to blog again.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Inverness for a short break. It was absolutely beautiful. I think if I was to run away, I might run away to there. We went on a wildlife watching boat trip at Cromarty with Ecoventures, and got to see dolphins, visited Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle and the Loch Ness Experience, and also Cawdor Castle. If anyone's looking for a short break, then I'd really recommend it.

I've just finished reading The Age of Five trilogy by Trudi Canavan. I am in awe of her world-building skills. The novels are told in third person, from multiple viewpoints so you gradually piece together this exquisite world of different races, religions, landscapes and environments. I felt Auraya's compassion for the Siyee so much that I almost cried when they were sent off to war to fulfil the terms of their alliance. It definitely left me wanting more, so I'm wondering whether the author is planning on writing more fiction set in this universe, as she is with the world she established in The Black Magician Trilogy.

Am now reading Curse of the Wolf Girl by Martin Millar, the sequel to one of my favourite novel's Lonely Werewolf Girl (published 2007). Don't want to give any sort of review yet, as I'm only on chapter 10, but I'm enjoying it so far. I'm not sure you'd be able to read it without reading the original though, and I think everyone should read Lonely Werewolf Girl, so go check it out!

Anyone reading this blog going to the Fringe: you've still time to catch Stitched Up! written by my friend and fellow Momentum alumni Robin Johnson (Website) (Review).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Story So Far...

I started my blog on 11th August 2006 (4 years ago today!) as an online writing journal to track my progression from "aspiring" to "published" author. At the beginning, I was involved in the Momentum playwriting workshop, and my writing was more tailored towards scripts rather than prose. From 2006 - 2007 I wrote 2 plays - Red and the Wolf and Hoodies, the latter receiving a professional rehearsed reading at the Momentum New Writing Festival in 2007. After Momentum, I tried to continue working on Hoodies, but after successfully completing NaNoWriMo and getting my first meeting with an agent at the Writing Industries Conference in 2008, I turned away from scriptwriting back to prose. Since 2008, I have completed four novels of at least 50,000 words each. Three of which are still first drafts; the first (Inter Vivos) is around 120,000 words in its sixth or seventh draft but has been abandoned because it doesn't work (soggy foundations). Meanwhile, since the beginning of this blog, I have had 6 short stories published (albeit without pay) and one story recorded by an almost-professional actor. I have also racked up 18 rejection emails and letters.

I still don't consider myself a "published" author - I know I am technically, but because I haven't been paid (in the last 10 years at least) I don't think it counts. What I want to do is to increase my output, complete more short stories as well as finish the first draft for my novel as outlined below and develop a couple of the first drafts I have already written. This won't happen if I spend all weekend playing The Sims 2. In the next 4 years, at the very least I'd like to say that I have a pretty good novel written that I'm scouting around the agencies, and that it is a serious contender for publication. I'd like to have a couple of stories professionally published too. I would like to return to script writing again, although in what form, I'm not yet sure. I think all this is possible, if I put in the work.

On one of my reports at primary school, my year 5 teacher said that I could "do anything I put my mind to". For years I only saw the positive in that statement, my teacher thought "I could do anything!" But the important point as I saw later was that I had to "put my mind" to it. So I will increase my creative output and set my mind to completing the goals above. Happy birthday, blog, and here's to the next four years.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The New Novel

OK folks, here it is. A basic summary of my new novel.
Firstly, I should record that I came up with the idea some time ago in June this year whilst at a Speculators meeting, sitting under a tree in the Quakers' garden. Originally, I had the idea of a girl who could control nature, and anything connected to that. Trees, plants, animals, the weather, earthquakes, the Earth's rotation. All that stuff. Then I decided to give her a sister, an opposite almost, and so she has power over humanity - she can heal or destroy the human body. She can read and manipulate minds. She can create life, just as she can extinguish it. My protagonist and antagonist were born.

And yet, I decided that I liked my "antagonist" more, and so decided to write the story mainly from her point of view. Matti is the "evil" one to Eva's "good" one, but what makes Matti so interesting is that she doesn't consider herself to be evil at all.

Currently, the story is being told via a series of chapters which relates to a particular year of the sisters' lives. As they are potentially immortal, in this story it spans almost 70 years. It starts with the sisters as children. Eva was born with her powers to control nature, and has always been special as a result. Matti, the older sibling, discovers her powers after an accident that should have killed her. Suddenly the dynamics of the family are changed. This is the seed for the resentment and bitterness that lead to the sisters' war against each other. But despite the decades of fighting, they are still sisters, still drawn together because of family ties (and burdens), and an ongoing moral argument.

It's not going to be one of those stories that ends happily. And it's as much about coping with death and the consequences of your actions, as it is about immortality and (for want of a better word) superpowers.
More updates will follow. For now, I'm still working on chapter one - which, because it includes a lot of flashback, will probably get cut somewhere later along the line. Hey ho!

(Picture: "Storm Goddess" by Firnadi Iqbal http://www.advancedphotoshop.co.uk/show_image.php?imageID=15928)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Risks and Writing

I have a lot of respect for writers that take risks with regards to pursuing their dreams. Being a writer means that you have to have a certain amount of free time in which to write, to day dream, to plot and plan. Quitting the day job is a big step, especially if that means living on the bread line, working from commission to commission, and only making your next mortgage payment based on your popularity with, say, white, female, middle-class 20-somethings going on package holidays to Alicante. It's risky business indeed. Not many authors ever get to live comfortably from their writing alone. I like to day dream about quitting my job and supporting myself with my writing, but there are too many variables that rely on chance for me to consider this as a viable option at present. I don't think I'd be brave enough to leap off the cliff into full-time writerdom without a parachute of some kind (a five-book deal? A big fat royalty cheque? A Nobel prize?). So I have a lot of respect for people who do leave the rat race, even part time, to pursue their dreams. Does playing it safe though mean that I'm a worse writer? Or that I'm any less serious than someone who has made more of a sacrifice, who has taken those risks? I don't think so, and I hope not. I think of it as being "sensible" rather than anything else, though there is a little bit of insecurity and fear mixed in there too.

I really enjoyed The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan, and after taking a short break to read The Boy With The Cuckoo Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu (good), I have now started reading the first book of Canavan's second trilogy The Age of the Five. I'm only on page 5 at the moment, but will tell you how it goes. Enjoyable so far, though her prose style is a little abstained - still, it is early days and I'm sure I will get into the story in a couple of pages time.

Still in the planning stages of what I *think* is going to be my next novel (don't want to jinx it!). Will give you more details next time. It's all very exciting at the moment, as I can see the potential in the story stretch out for me for miles. But whether I'm able to do it justice, well, we'll just have to wait and see!

Monday, July 19, 2010


I am currently working on a short story about two sisters who hate each other and have magical powers. I don't know if it is any good, or if I will continue the story into a novel. At the moment, I quite like my two characters, so I'll see where it goes.
This is what I've been trying to do for the past few months - just play around with characters and settings, trying to find a voice, a story, a protagonist that interests me. So far I've come up with several short pieces, none of which are completed, and I am longing to write a novel again. It's like when you break up with a long term boyfriend - soon after the break-up, you don't want to go on dates again and get to know someone from scratch. You want that shared intimacy, the secrets, the safe comfort that comes with prolonged knowledge. At the minute I want to jump ahead to the novel part, in spite of not having a story, a plot, an idea even about what to write. Which is why I'm trying to write short pieces. Even though it's frustrating the crap out of me. Can't run before you can walk, as the adage goes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jive Bunny

I've taken the plunge and have got myself cast in Return to the Forbidden Planet, which for those of you who don't know, is a jukebox musical based loosely on The Tempest and The Forbidden Planet. It'll be on in February at the Concordia Theatre, Hinckley, Leics. I am in the chorus, and I am trying very hard to silence that inner voice inside my head that is ambitious and attention-seeking and wants me to audition for a lead role. I don't have time to be a lead (assuming I'd be cast of course). Monday was the first dance workshop, where we learned to jive. It's been years since I've been to rock n'roll nights, and so I was a bit rusty, but it was really good fun. Good exercise too!

Our TV digibox has been broken since Sunday, and it's sad to say I'm feeling a bit lonely without it. The technician is coming Friday, so all will be well, but if any one has any suggestions about what I can do to fill up my TV-less evenings, they would be most appreciated. I don't really watch telly, but it's nice to have it there in the background.

I have been reading more, possibly as a consequence but maybe not - the books I'm reading are very mind-absorbing. I'm reading Trudi Canavan's The Black Magician Trilogy, and have read the second book and half of the last book in 2 days. It's a really good book, in my opinion. For those who scoff, I think it's important to read popular fiction, even if your goal is to write high-brow literary fiction, just to see what techniques are employed to hook a reader. Even if you are looking to write literary fiction, surely the aim of the game is to sell a few copies as well as winning hundreds of awards? So, this series is action packed, but also has central characters that you care about.

I'm rubbish at plotting. Anyone have any advice about how I can improve? I'm still working my way through Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots, which is very interesting and insightful, but not particularly practical. I guess the answer is the same as the answer to how anyone gets good at anything - with practise!

Elsewhere: Damien takes on the Paranormal Romance fandom not quite single-handedly here:http://damiengwalter.com/2010/06/30/who-reads-urban-fantasy/

A plug for my friends' new Edinburgh show, Stitched Up!: http://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/theatre/stitched-up

My current favourite twitterer (is that the right phrase?), my old school pal Marc Burrows (now a stand-up comedian and musician): http://twitter.com/20thcenturymarc

And the web-strip that I follow on a semi-regular basis, Hark, A Vagrant - check it out! http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php

Monday, June 14, 2010


On Saturday I venutred to Alt.Fiction in Derby, my first SF convention. It's a small event in its infancy - I'm not sure, but I think it's either in its third or fourth year. I did have a good time, aside from a terrible head cold which capped the amount of socialising I could do, but I do think it could have been better.

Obviously, as a convention virgin, there were some things I found strange that apparently is just how it is; for instance, in the programme there was a gap from 5pm - 7pm where nothing happened. I think this is so that people have time to eat, but it just felt weird that there was nothing going on - it made it feel like two events, especially as a lot of people left at around 5.

I didn't go to any of the workshops, which I'm regretting a bit now, as the panels I went to weren't that great. Again, I think a lot of it is down to my expectations. I knew a lot already from the "How to get published" panel from attending the Writing Industries Conference (which was much more useful). The panel entitled "Hack & Slash Vs Sparkly Vampires" was a disappointment, as it seemed to just be a bitter rant about the popularity of paranormal romance in comparison with the panellists' own genres. I thought they missed a treat by not turning it into a proper debate about the changing role of sex and violence in YA literature as well as adult literature, eg taking the desexualisation of vampires in fiction as a starting point, charting the rise historically as well as sociologically. I mean, I think that any author or wannabe writer should take note of what is popular at the moment (rather than just dismissing it as "crap"), and dissect it to see what and why that is - yes, there is a certain amount of alchemy involved, but sometimes changing social trends and, in general changing sociological positions can have an impact on the cultural psyche and that in turn changes what people read and how people respond to literature. However, in its defense, I do think maybe the panel was a last minute addition, so maybe they were just winging it and hadn't had any time to prepare properly.

I think I'm more critical because I organise events for a living. I've organised conferences and events similar to conventions in the past (and at present - there's one on Saturday!), which does mean I am perhaps a bit quicker at deconstructing events than most!

I think one of the problems with Alt.Fiction is that it's not sure what it wants to be. I mean, I think pretty much everyone there was a writer, which is a good job, as there wasn't much there for fans of the genre who didn't write (the readings were in the evening and the one I went to only had about 5 - 6 people in it). A little evaluation form/post-event survey could find out who it is who is attending this event, and then focus it a little more - which would in turn attract more people (both guests and participants). As a writer, it would have been nice to have a panel specifically on the market at this time, predictions for the next 2 years, how to conduct market research, and how agents conduct their market research. I know, these are tricks of the trade, and agents are loathe to say "this is what will be big next year" because it will mean they get sent nothing but "that" for the next few months or more (and their predictions might prove incorrect). But I'm sure there are some things that could be said so aspiring authors don't feel like they are wandering around in the dark so much.

There, rant over! Anyway, I had a good day hanging out with my Speculator chums, and have to thank them for humoring me all day with my tissues and anti-viral hand wipes. Hopefully none of them have been contaminated!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

What I'm Reading...

I've been reading quite a lot lately. Recently, I finished Octavia Butler's Wild Seed - do you know it? It's quite an old book, having been published in 1980 (the year of my birth, coincidentally). The great thing about this book is that there is no waffle, no expedition. Everything is told in a very manner of fact way, everything relevant to the incidents of the scene you are reading. Butler knows exactly where her story starts, and doesn't preamble to set tone, universe, etc. That doesn't mean that the writing isn't lyrical or the world is lacking in some way - it is a very absorbing story. It feels like a very honest way to tell a story, and something that I'm going to try with my own writing.
I've also just finished reading Orson Scott Card's Hart's Hope. The narrative unfolds as a series of stories told by a mysterious narrator to one of the title characters, going over events that have shaped his life in order to persuade him not to kill his son. At first I found the conceit a little trying as the stories were not perhaps as engaging as they could have been. But by the middle section, I was hooked, and I'm not sure why - perhaps it was when, finally, we were given a hero to root for. Aside from Point Fantasy and the usual children's classics, I think this is actually the first alternative world medieval-esque fantasy book I have ever read,which is quite depressing when I think about it.
I'm now reading Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. I am enjoying it so far, although I think I can tell it's for a younger audience, as a lot of the world-building stuff about the politics of the universe is presented to the reader on a plate. But aside from that, as I said, I'm enjoying the story, though I'm only about a quarter of the way in.
I've been reading Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories which I've had for a while but haven't tackled before. I've only just finished chapter two so far, but already it has proved insightful when analysing my own work and the plotting problems I've encountered. The chapter I've just finished explains the plot Booker has named "Overcoming the Monster" which covers everything from Star Wars, Little Red Riding Hood, The Magnificent Seven, the James Bond films, and, obviously, Beowulf. The hero/heroine gets "the call" - he/she must defeat some sort of monster that is threatening their home/mankind/the planet, and, equipped with "magical weapons", he/she goes off to face them. There is a stage where the hero first mets the monster/bad guys or their associates, and they win. Then they get captured/face the monster again, and it all looks like it's over for our hero until by some superhuman means, they overcome the monster at the last minute and save the world/get the "princess"/get the treasure. It's interesting, to me at least, because my own failed Inter Vivos sort of followed this story pattern, and comparing it to this very basic formula it's easy to see some of the places it went wrong (of course, to say this is it's only fault is being extremely simplistic!). My heroine Nox set out to defeat a monster that wasn't particularly threatening. Big fail.
So I've been enjoying reading lately, trying to write around it, think about the things that I want to do. I have been working more on my Corrie Flint-inspired novel, which is set in London and focuses on many different supernatural creatures that live there (the Banshee story sort of fits into this universe). It's been fun reinventing the troll and the leprechaun into 21st century London, and I just wish I had a little more time coming up to really be able to work on it more, rather than having to steal an hour here or there.
So things are looking up at the moment. I'm at Alt.Fiction on Saturday, so if any of you happen to be there, please come and say hi! The Speculators newspaper is free in the goodie bags apparently, so you can read my short story in there too!

Monday, May 31, 2010


This past week I've been off work, using up some of my holiday. And it's been bliss. I've planted tomatoes, strawberries, runner beans and both red and green peppers in the garden (as well as a patio rose bush), did a little writing, and, on Friday, hired a car and went to Chatsworth House. It was absolutely beautiful. The house is striking in its grandeur against the lush countryside around it. To be honest though, I was a little disappointed when touring the house - the state rooms were lovely, but the rest of the house we were allowed to tour was more like a museum than a residence, and it's the people that interest me. The gardens, on the other hand, were magnificiant. If you can't find inspiration for a Fantasy world setting there, then I don't know where. The rock garden in particular was beautiful - going to bore you with a few photos, but you get the idea!

Officially I am now part of the Speculators group, which is a SF writing group that meets every week on Queens Road. They're producing a magazine to promote the group, and this was the motivation to finish my short story "Tick", which is the steampunk reworking of Inter Vivos. The word limit for the mag was only 1,500, so I think I'm going to go back to the story and develop it further.

Development for my Corrie Flint/Selena Waterford/Mattthew Gray story is coming along, although I still don't have anything to link all the stories together - aside from the fact that they all take place in London. I'm sure my brain will puzzle it out eventually though.

Hope you all enjoy your bank holiday Mondays!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I'm on a bit of a diet/health kick at the moment, as it is more economical for me to fit into my old clothes than to have to go out and buy exactly the same but in a larger size. I've been doing really well, except that after lunch and dinner, I always want something sweet. I'm sitting here now, typing this, trying not to eat all of the Aero Bubbles that I bought just a minute ago, after my fairly healthy red chard and parmasan salad. Just so tasty though... I feel I'm fighting a losing battle.

I can't start the Three Sisters story. It just won't come. I've been trying to write it for about 3 weeks now, and it's just painful - both in the writing and the reading sense. So, I've decided to shelve that story, and instead I am going to work on my second draft of Dorcas Grubb, and also a couple of short stories I started that I want to finish. A bit of a recap for you: Dorcas Grubb was my NaNoWriMo winning novel of 2008. It features a teenage girl called Dorcas, who's father has just died, and so the family (her mum, older brother, and baby sister) move in with their maternal Grandfather in Leicester (UK). That is where she discovers that the family have a genetic abnormality which means they can travel back in time.The story is about a girl who is dealing with a lot of grief, about a family falling apart and then falling apart some more before finally coming back together, and about a girl who isn't the brightest, or prettiest, or thinnest, but who has a good heart, and wants to find her place in the world. I think it would make a good series, maybe 3 or 4 books, aimed at early teens. Then I'd fast forward in time to start a new series centred around Tabitha, Dorcas's baby sister, all grown up - she's the one with the uber-powers, you see (Dorcas in the first book is constantly over-shadowed by her baby sister!). As usual, I'll keep you updated on my progress.

There, all my Aero Bubbles are gone now. Good job I'm doing aerobics tonight. Sigh.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My First Convention!

I'm going to my first SF convention in June. I recently bought a ticket to Alt.Fiction, which takes place in Derby. Apparently it's a good one to start off with, so I'm pretty excited to go. I only really got in to Science Fiction and Fantasy in 2008, after I was told that that's what genre Inter Vivos was. I grew up reading Roald Dahl, Point Romance and Point Horror (back in 1993 when they were popular, so don't scoff!), and children's versions of classic novels - Great Expectations, Tale of Two Cities, Stories of Edgar Allen Poe. It wasn't that I was snobbish against Science Fiction, but those SF stories were always marketed as "Boys' books", and I was never exposed to them. I was aware of Sci-Fi only through Star Wars (a film I didn't watch until I was 17). I first heard of The Hobbit at age 15 and I'm sad to say I probably didn't know anything about Lord of the Rings until the first film came out. So I've been playing "catch-up" since 2008. It's important to know about the genre that you're writing in - not just what's current and what sells, but the history and roots of the genre. I think I'm doing a pretty good job at catching up. I don't like the hard Sci-Fi stuff, as I tend to find most that I've read is not character-focused enough for me. I'm reading Octavia Butler (Wild Seed) at the moment, and she is brilliant in the way she crafts a story - she doesn't mess about, just gets on with it, somehow seamlessly filtering in the back story so she doesn't have to worry about exposition. I wish I could do that.
If anyone has any suggestions of good SF/Fantasy books to read, then please let me know. I'm on to either Ursula le Guin or Orson Scott Card next.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Quick Post...

...Just to prove I'm still alive. Last week I drove almost 400 miles for work (which is a big achievement seeing as it's only my second trip out in the car). Went to Esher, in Surrey, and Canterbury (Kent). Was very nice, weather was lovely, and it was nice to be away, even though it was for work and not a holiday, even though I did get to see the sea. Have been enjoying a lazy bank holiday, but back to work (in more ways than one) tomorrow!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Take That, Writer's Block

OK, so it's no secret that for the past couple of weeks I've been finding it difficult to write. But I've struggled through anyway, and low and behold, almost 2,000 words of new novel (potentially). Some of the words are actually spelled correctly and are in the right order too. So I'm feeling slightly better about life right now, which is a good thing.
I don't really believe in "writer's block". By that, I mean, I don't think that there is this sudden mysterious cloud of nothingness that descends upon your creative mind without warning, without provocation to scupper your writing plans. I mean, that can happen, that creative blank, but the causes of it are usually easy to trace - stress, illness, anxiety, all that stuff. And it soon goes away if you tackle the symptoms, or if you can learn to work around or even with them. So that's what I'm doing at the moment, even though I'm still anxious about the possibility of failed ambitions, blah blah blah. I know I'll get over that, and as soon as I do, I'll hopefully have a few more thousand words under my belt to prove myself good.
Election time soon. Although I don't consider myself to be a political person, I do actually care who runs the country and have always voted. I am reading up on manifestos, and will be watching the debate tonight in a bid to make the most educated decision I can, rather than pick the person who looks best on the telly.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Plan (Take 2)

Hope you all had nice holidays everyone! I meant to write a blog post two weeks ago, but was so busy at work that I never got around to posting.

So, over the last few weeks I've been taking some time to think about what to do next. It feels like ages since I actually came up with a new writing project, which is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. As I mentioned, I've been busy with work, which meant only snatched moments to ponder things, but not really any time to be productive and dedicate to new projects. And then over Easter, when I thought I'd have time, I had food poisoning instead. So yes, anyway, this post is about the Plan. Or the New Plan, as it should be known.

I want to continue on with Dorcas Grubb and The Banshee, my two completed first drafts that are currently sitting on my memory stick collecting electronic dust. I need to work out what the main event is in Dorcas, and I need to come up with an actual plot that means something for the Banshee, rather than it being just a string of events that don't lead anywhere.

I came up with an idea for a new novel, I think, though it's all a bit sketchy at the moment, and to be honest, every time I start it, it doesn't come out how I want, and I don't know whether it's fear or inability that's hindering me. The idea anyway - there is a town in contemporary England (at the beginning it was going to be Medieval, but I've scrapped that now) run by two very powerful, feuding families - the Knights and the Bakers. The story goes that once upon a time, Death had a fling with this mortal woman, who had three daughters by him. Death gave each daughter a special gift - the eldest could turn invisible, the second could move as swiftly as Death himself, and the third could see into the future. Anyway, the mum dies and the sisters start squabbling. The eldest married a Knight, hence the surname, the second the local baker, and the third became a nun (Cloister). Anyway, the story is about their descendants today, using their powers to gain the upper hand in the feud which is verging on all out gang war (a bit like modern day Capulets and Montagues). I have a few sketchy characters, a setting, a back story, but no plot as of now. So that's what I'm trying very hard to come up with at the moment.

I also started a short story last night, and I really enjoyed writing it, but I'm not sure where it's going, if anywhere. I was told a few weeks ago that Jay Lake set himself the goal of writing one short story a week, which is a great idea if you have time, so I've decided to write one short story a month starting April 2010. Even if they are just "practice" stories, it'll still be good to write on a regular basis. Plus you never know, some of them might have potential.

And there it is, the Plan. Write a short story a month. Come up with a plot for Three Sisters and write that. Work on the plot of Dorcas Grubb. Come up with a plot for The Banshee story. I think I'm sensing a pattern...

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Another rejection email today. When it rains, it pours, right? I'm about at the limit of how much my optimistic attitude can take, so I'm off for dinner tonight with the boyf to cheer myself up.


I have started working on something new, which has the potential to become a new novel. I think I'll wait though until I'm in a better mood to tell you about it.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


This post may be a long one. Don't say I didn't warn you. You wait months for something interesting to report, and then it all happens at once. I'm going to report things in reverse chronological order, just for fun.

The Monastery OK. So here are a few photos of the lovely abbey.

It was so peaceful, even with a boarding school in the grounds. The monks wore black robes, and were perfectly lovely and polite, if scarce. Apparently there were only 30 there. I had supper with the headmaster (a monk) on Sunday evening, and had cajun chicken and tequila-laced salmon, drank wine and elderflower cordial before retiring to my room at 9:30. It was a good event, the Higher Education bit that I was there for, and a pretty unique experience I suppose. Yorkshire is lovely - I think I may have to have a special day trip to explore properly another time.

The Writing Industries Conference I had a very good day, with the quality what I've grown to expect from a Literature Network/Writing East Midlands event. The programme was just about perfect, and they made up for the fact that attendees couldn't attend everything I wanted to by recording each session as a podcast. There wasn't too much waiting around for sessions to start, but similarly it didn't feel rushed. The theme was about New Media, and the need for writers to diversify to become successful. My agent one to one went very well, but probably not for the reasons you might think. He tore my work to shreds, pointed out the gaping holes that I have been in denial about, and made the most liberating suggestion of my life (in regards to Inter Vivos anyway!). I hate it when people give feedback and they're afraid to hurt your feelings, so they use stock phrases and platitudes, and this guy did no such thing. I know some people couldn't have sat there taking it without crying or arguing or something, but I thought it was great. Because it means that I should not waste anymore time on a project that is fundamentally flawed (no matter how hard I try to resolve those flaws) and that I should work on something else.
The day after my meeting, it did hit me that I wasn't as far ahead as I had thought, but - well - nevermind! Back to the drawing board. I'm going to salvage what I can from Inter Vivos, perhaps take a few characters that I like and play with them a little, and treat Inter Vivos like you do your first ever boyfriend - you look back fondly but think, what was I thinking?
So what does that mean now?
Well, I'm going to stick to Fantasy, which is where I'm more comfortable, and I know a little bit more about. I'm going to have a think about what it is I want to write, what I like to read, and go from there. I may revisit the Banshee story, because I think that has some potential, although the plot still isn't clear to me. I'm going to write more short stories and practice the "craft". And I'm going to be more honest with myself. I knew IV wasn't working - I couldn't get my head around the core science in the book, and no amount of characterisation would fix that. There was a reason I hadn't been able to finish it for NaNoWriMo, why I'd been working on it for 4 years with little success, but I'd blinkered myself to it. Everything negative that the agent said, I knew already but had been denying it to myself.
So all in all, the Writing Conference was extremely valuable. Now I just have to work out what to do next.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Post About Work...Mainly

Sigh. Feeling very tired today after my one-day weekend. Spent most of Sunday lying on the sofa in sort of a swoon-like position, trying to see the telly past my gigantic Valentine's bouquet. Not that I was really watching the telly as tuning out from the rest of the world for a while. I did watch Adventureland though, that was good.
Work is still busy, as I'm organising events for between 500-1000 people twice a week until March, plus in a couple of weeks time I get to go and stay at a monastery, which I'm both petrified and excited about. What if the room I'm staying in is haunted by dead monks? Dead chanting monks? Dead chanting monks with no feet or faces? *shudder*
Because work has been difficult, my writing has had to take a bit of a back-burner, but tonight I start editing again. It is taking forever. But I'm stubborn, so I'll keep chugging away. Come on chapter five!
I found out at the weekend that I've got an agent one-to-one at the Writing Industries Conference, which is cool. I'm doing my research and planning, and have come up with questions I'd like to ask, so that's good. What would you ask, if you had 15 mins with a literary agent?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beep Beep!

So, on Friday I drove 80 miles for work (to Rugby and back) and lived to tell the tale! It was my first solo drive since passing my test in September, and beforehand, to say I was scared seems like an understatement. So the day came and I got my hire car, a cute Vauxhall Corsa with a gear stick I discovered later didn't like to go into first. Like when I was at a busy roundabout. Or at a traffic light-controlled obstruction with a huge lorry waiting behind me, beeping its horn every time I stalled (twice; the lights changed to red again before I could move). Oh well. I went on the motorway and managed to get into the middle lane without causing an accident. And when I got lost because of road works coming off the M1, I managed to find my way from the middle of nowhere to the school I was visiting in less than 20 minutes, using no directions or maps, other than the road signs along the route. Just thinking about the whole experience again gives me a bit of a high. Driving = fun.
I'm definitely going to buy a sat-nav though. I mean, it was good that I could find my way when lost, but soon I'm going to have to drive down to Surrey, and then make my way from there to Canterbury, and I think some assistance will definitely be beneficial.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Will Try Harder Next Time...

I'm finding it very hard to blog at the moment. I'm trying to save money, so am not doing a lot of extracurricular activities; I'm really busy at work, and am still editing Inter Vivos, which is very slow work and hardly worth blogging about.
If you're finding it hard to live without your tri-weekly Lucy fix, you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter. In the meantime, I promise to become more interesting soon!
I did go and see Vampire Weekend yesterday - they were very good, and played my favourite song right at the end!

Monday, January 25, 2010


I ended last week with yet another rejection. This one admitted that they hadn't even read my story, which I'm quickly learning is actual common practice amongst 'zines. Surely though, if you don't have time to read submissions, you should close your slush pile for a while? And this was from a magazine where I noticed that in their last issue, there were two stories written by the same person (who wasn't the editor or on staff or a "famous" author). Fair?
Anyway, so I did what anyone else would do - I sucked it up and sent my story out again to a different magazine. I'm going to get this story published if it's the last thing I do!!
Urgh. Having a crappy day. Going to go home later, drink hot chocolate and watch America's Next Top Model.

Yale Recruitment Video

OK now, so knowing that I'm into musical theatre, and also that I work in Student Recruitment, why am I finding this video so cringe worthy I might have to take the rest of the day off to recover? http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2010/jan/20/yale-recruitment-video-blog

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I'm feeling a bit down today. One, because I got an email yesterday saying that one of my stories was rejected from a magazine, and two, because on my way to work today I went arse over tit and fell over in the snow. Was very embarrassing (and painful).
Editing Inter Vivos is time consuming and not very exciting. It is good when you get to a part of the story where you suddenly find yourself swept away by it, but those moments are few and far between, and most of the time I'm rewording clumsy sentencing, or else cutting scenes altogether. Chapter one has had to go entirely, which has meant rewriting half of chapter two to make it make sense.
Anyway, on a positive note, I've an idea for a story but I don't know really where to start with it, and whether it might be a short-story or a novel. It is set on a dying Earth-like planet, where the rotation of the planet has stopped completely, and most people now live in the shadowy part along the world's equator, sandwiched between freezing cold and boiling hot. I haven't written anything yet, but I think it might be something I work on in the future.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Year, New Post

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had good holidays. Watch Doctor Who? I'm a big fan of the show, but even I thought the last ten minutes were too sentimental and self-indulgent. Also, internally inconsistent: In the past the Doctor has never been able to control his regeneration so he can go visit all of his loved ones and stare at them before disappearing again in the Tardis, and I don't see why the Tenth Doctor should be any different. Plus, since when has the Doctor shot lightning bolts out of his body during regeneration powerful enough to destroy the interior of the Tardis? But then again, maybe it's not as tough as it used to be; the Titanic space ship was able to crash through it after all two Christmases ago.

So, anyway, I came to the library to work on Inter Vivos. Then I realised I had forgotten to put a file on my USB. Oh well, never mind, I can look at the proofs instead. Then the battery in my netbook goes. Nevermind, I'll move upstairs where there's a plug socket. Then I realise the notebook I need is in fact still sitting on my bedside table at home. So that is why I am now blogging instead of doing any actual work.

I'm currently working on the first chapter, which needs to be completely rewritten as I've cut that scene and decided that that information should be discovered by my narrator (and the reader) later on in chapter three.

I've been thinking a bit about growing up recently. The future is a really scary place. Well, OK, thinking about the future is really scary. It's full of Grown-Up things like buying houses, starting a family, that sort of thing. Not that I'm going to be buying houses, etc any time soon, but now that I'm approaching my thirties, I've been forced to think about what I might like to see happen before the beginning of my next decade. I mean, I don't want to be forty and think, shit, I'm homeless. And likewise, I think I'll regret it if I don't work hard now and try to be a paid, bone fide writer. Of course, it helps when you remember your notebook... But the point is, I don't want to have any regrets, noone should have regrets about things they wish they had done when they had the chance.

So that's my New Year's Resolution. To do things that mean I won't have regrets when I'm forty (in 2020 aargh!).

What about you guys out there? Any Resolutions you want to share?