Monday, December 28, 2009

Clear and cold the year is old, my ramblings bimble on

First things first: Felicitations of the Season to all and sundry!

Christmas was good; I had Christmas Eve off work so I boiled and baked my ham (with cloves and maple syrup) which worked fantastically well once again so Chum #1 was happy, as was I. Christmas Day I made my cranberry sauce with ruby port which went down well, and as that was the only cooking I had to do all day I was pleased too. We went to Chum #1's parents' house for dinner, along with my mother and another friend - we didn't eat too much, it was all just right, and we played an excellent game of Trivial Pursuit (the new one with a twist - abbots, no less). Then we went to my mother's for Boxing Day and ate and drank with the pseudo-nephews and nieces and their parents.

Yesterday, we rested by going to see Sherlock Holmes which I thought was good, silly fun. The relationship between Holmes and Watson was reminiscent of that portrayed by Roxburgh and Hart in the more recent Hound of the Baskervilles, and Watson came across as being smart which was a relief. I can't stand the depictions of Watson as a bumbling idiot. >.<

Christmas presents: a fantastic telescope that the chum and I will have to put together (the horror of instructions that start with an item's individual pieces set out on a big sheet on the floor o_O ); lots of non-fiction books on Georgian history/ society; Doctor Who Season 4 and other lovely things (including socks!) are having a 'December belongs to Cthulhu' fest and although December is almost over I had a Lovecraftian moment while dog walking in the woods so a story will shortly be committed to paper in honour of the Old Ones. Cthulu ftagn!

It's strange to think that 2009 is almost over. Britain is still in recession and looks as though it may be for some time to come (not to mention being horrifically in debt as a nation) but I hope that 2010 will be better; higher household bills notwithstanding. The family's healthy; we all have roofs over our heads, and we're all in work so we have no complaints on that score. We are content with bursts of happiness.

So here's to the impending 2010 - may we all be, if not perpetually happy, then at least content with bursts of happiness and rich in friends and loved ones.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The sun is shining in my eyes...

It's almost Christmas Eve and there is snow on the ground! It was a bit dodgy trying to leave my street this morning as we are not blessed with gritters (being unworthy dwellers of a dead-end road) but once the ice of two and a half streets was navigated it was plain sailing.

Although I don't enjoy driving in snow (driving back from Newcastle on Sunday was exciting for all the wrong reasons), I do love snow itself. Chum #1 and I took the dogs out for a walk before bed, as is our wont, and we decided to extend it because the snow was fantastic, the collies were hyper, and it was just a brilliant, cold, and shiny night. I hope that the snow stays until the 24th at least - I've taken the day off work and it would be nice to get a long walk in -- through snow -- before the madness begins! (I have a ham to bake, among other things - oh, God, the WRAPPING!!!)

I have bought a number of books in advance of the holiday, so at some point I will have to structure some kind of reading list otherwise I'll dither and end up re-reading books while I try to decide which new ones I want to read. I also need to get back on the wagon with the unnamed one as that ground to a halt with illness and work being busy. (I am trying to resist my brain's idea of getting back into the flow by writing a short on a mad galvanist that I had a brain-tickle for. Although, amazingly, I did manage to get some articles from the 1800s about galvanism that will help the research. But still, resist.)

I need to clear the workspace downstairs again so that there's room to work, and I also need to update everything on the laptop as that hasn't been done since the 29th of October, just before I went on holiday. Jobs, jobs, jobs. ::sigh::

I've got editing planned for this week; I'm at work on Monday, and then it's writing for the rest of the week and into January. Cobbling together bits from pbackwriter and Jeff Vandermeer's Booklife I've fleshed out a business plan for 2010 as well as looked at breaking things into weekly tasks, and creating a five year plan. I have to say that I found the mission statement idea (from Booklife) *really* difficult to do. Interesting, but difficult, and it still needs work.

So, what about you? Do you do a business plan every year? Do you break things down into small tasks to make them more manageable and trackable? Do you have a different method for organising your life, or do you just go with the flow? Inquiring minds want to know.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Phoenix Con 7

Phoenix Con 7 here I come!

Chum #1 has booked us and her mother on the convention, which is taking place in Dublin from the 5th - 7th March 2010. It will be great to meet some people face-to-face that I've only spoken to online. All I need to do now is sort out accomodation and flights and that'll be job done. Fantastic.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

1st of December

Mood: Cheerful, but full of cold
On the iPod: The Death of Bardolph: Henry V - Simon Rattle
Temp: 18.9 deg C

December is here, the start of winter, and to get it off to a good start we had the first hard frost of the season this morning which meant that I froze my hands scraping the car windows.
It was dark when I set off to work but as the sun rose and turned the sky pink, the frosty ground looked gorgeous. I wish I'd stopped at the side of the road and taken a picture of it; it was glorious.
What wasn't glorious was the black ice that I'd forgotten would be on the rat-run to the motorway. Hairpin bends on a steep hill past farmers' fields where there's runoff onto the road. Luckily, because I usually forget not to go on that road in winter at least once a year, I've become accustomed to steering off ice. Also, there was no-one coming the other way which was a bonus. Unless it rains I'll be going the long way until March.

With it being December the first I have the joy of a carol service at work today (as in, I will be singing in it) which will be nice. Rehearsal at lunchtime and then the service at 17:00hrs GMT. Hopefully we'll be singing all the jolly carols rather than weepy ones. Normally I miss the service because it's always on a Tuesday and I work 'til 21:00hrs then, but this year I swapped, so we shall see how it goes.

NaNo Update: did I win? No. Did I progress? Yes, absolutely. I've added two characters I hadn't planned on in the initial outline and I think I've managed to push them into the shadows a bit for this story. They're there, but they won't elbow their way to the front as they were starting to for a minute. Hakon and Snorri will just have to wait for a different story to take their spot in the limelight.

Current word count: 71,871
Chapter: Midway through chapter 19

Friday, October 23, 2009

Procrastination Station

Just over a week ago I finished part one of the current WiP, full of glee at getting a good 53K words and eager to start on part two. But I found that, having finished a distinct part without making an immediate effort to start the next section, it was difficult to set hands to keyboard again. First I had to re-read my outline and make sure that it fit with the changes I'd made to the outline of part one as I wrote it. Then I had to make a few more notes about things to include, stuff I needed to know. After that I had to add more worldbuilding to my guidebook for future reference. And so a week went by without any new words being written on the actual book itself.

Now, I know that this was all procrastination station.

(a) I've done part one. Yay! [Euphoria]
(b) What if it sucks? [Gloom]
(c) I need to start part two! [Confidence]
(d) What if it sucks? [Gloom]
(e) Oh, crap. I know where part one should have started (and it's not where I did start it). [Gloom]
(f) Maybe I should just tweak... [Gloomy indecision]

Yesterday, I finally broke the deadlock and tapped out 339 words. Not a lot, but a damn sight more than zero, and today I tapped out some more.

On a personal level, I think one of the causes of the inadvertent hiatus was the fact that when I got to the end of part one I just stopped. What I should have done was write something, anything, even just one sentence of part two - just to get the ball rolling so that I wasn't staring at the Chapter 15 heading and a blank page.

How do you deal with coming to the end of one section and picking up another? Do you stop dead at the end of a chapter and start a new one with ease? Do you tease out a few lines of the new section so that when you come back to it you've got a thread to hang the rest on, or do you face down the blank page with ease and bash out the 1812 Overture on your keyboard without a backward glance at your notes?

Have you ever stopped at Procrastination Station? Enquiring minds want to know.

Monday, October 12, 2009

[metrics|weather] Part 1 (of 3) is done!

It clocks in at 176 pages/ 53,951 words and it is done. Now all I have to do is write parts 2 and 3 (and do them in less words than part 1 which went massively over aimed for / predicted word count.) So, I have joy joy feelings today!
Part 2 will start tomorrow and we'll see how much I deviate from the outline for that section. (Quite a lot I would imagine, if part 1 was anything to go by.)

Also, the sun is shining. Not in an aggressive, summery fashion but in a take-the-chill-off-the-autumn-day kind of way. Good dog walking weather (or cat, if your feline is so inclined.) Unfortunately, I am at work - a tea break does not an afternoon off make, alas. But still, we soldier on, fueled by mini cheddars and a kit-kat. I think everyone must have been released from lectures at the same time as there were queues for everything except the vending machines. Good job I'm only having soup for tea.

Friday, October 09, 2009

You never know who you're going to meet at work...

It's not often that you queue for coffee - in the student cafe at work - and meet one of your favourite authors; but that's what happened to me this morning when one of my colleagues introduced me to their friend - visiting from New Zealand - and it turned out to be Nalini Singh!
We had a nice chat over drinks (mocha and hot chocolate respectively) and, agreed that Anne Bishop is a fantastic author that we both like, along with Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey.

I did have a moment of (internal) fan-girl squeeage, and as it was internal I hopefully didn't come across as too much of a dork.

Anyway, I thought I'd share that as it's totally brightened up my day. You just never know who you're going to meet at work!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The autumn rains are here

Autumn sort of sauntered in during the last week of September; now we're in to October it's decided that, yes, it's really here to stay so it had better get on with knocking all the leaves of the trees, and raining to complement the chill air. Hats were worn for dog walking last night.

At the weekend we took the dogs out for a long walk and the beaters were abroad sending pheasants into the line of sight of men with guns. The collies weren't bothered by the gun fire, which was good, and Bear only barked when he heard the spaniels barking on the other side of the hedge so that was good. We did nearly get hit by low flying (fleeing) pheasant (or they could have been partridges - not sure about that) but they managed to clear our heads and make a break for the woods.

As it is autumn, and we had inspiration from the huntin' and shootin' set, we had pheasant for dinner last night and it was fantastic. Chum #1 made it. Saute leeks in a bit of butter and line an oven dish with them; rest your breast of pheasant on top; sprinkle on pine nuts (it's supposed to be chestnuts but we couldn't get any fresh and the tinned were £2 which was a bit much); add a knob of butter and wack it in the oven. For the gravy, you drain off the juices from the bird and add some chicken stock and port, thicken with cornflour and you have the most gorgeous tasting sauce ever. Of course, we'll need to test the recipe again--just to make sure it works a second time, you understand!

Autumn. The season of soups (roasted pumpkin & butternut squash), stews (cawl), and pies (beef and stilton crumble). Nom nom nom.Tonight we will be having the glory that is the baked potato, covered with some of the Italian bean stew we made in bulk the other week and froze. Tastiness will be mine!

In other news: I've figured out how Tilly makes a vampire's shielding spell permanent and have written the sequence out longhand so that will need to be added to the draft. That should be done today and then I can do the changeover of notes so that I carry the outline for Part 2 around with me. 52k and rising.

Friday, October 02, 2009

October has arrived, the nights are chill and early dark with felines prowling in the woods

It will soon be time to hunt for pumpkin and butternut squash to make my roasted autumn soup with, adding in my Tuscan herb mix for a last hint of summer. It will also soon be time to dust off the slow cooker so that I can set stews/ curries/ soups cooking while I'm at work. There are few things better than coming home to a house that's full of the smell of glorious food; especially as the house will probably be cool. We managed to avoid lighting the first fire until November last year - whether or not we'll manage it this year I don't know as we've already started using the hot water bottles (last night was pretty chilly.)

Took the dogs for a walk before bed, as per usual, but this time the cat decided she wanted to come to! So, at a much slower pace than normal we tramped onto the reserve, into and through the wood (this was scary - her tail was fluffed like a bottle brush the whole time), then down the trail and into a small copse before heading back out onto the main trail and back up to the house. Everyone was extremely pleased with themselves and all of the four-leggers went straight to bed because being a border collie/ cat is pretty exhausting really. :-)

I am lergified. Unlike last year I managed to fight off the germs in the first week of students being back, but I succumbed this week to the aching head and lethargy (my bed, she calls to me) but, the show must go on and all that. My writing productivity has declined day by day this week in an almost embarrasing fashion, but I am on chapter 13/ 48K and I will--at the very least--finish section one this weekend.

Anyway, how's your week been? Good, bad, indifferent?

Friday, September 18, 2009

How's your week going?

Listening to: The Most Dangerous Predator: Twilight Original Score - Carter Burwell

Location: Orthanc

Another week draws slowly to a close and I'm absolutely cream crackered. Which wouldn't be so bad if this was the end of the *really* busy week at work, but that's next week so I have the joy of being completely, insanely, don't bother having any breaks busy yet to come. All done in high heels because the smart work trousers were not made for people who are only 5"2 (and you really don't want me to hem things if the hem is meant to last more than one day) so there will be aching feet/ head/ throat from all the talking/projecting against background noise.

Thank god it's only this bad once a year.

I'm off to the North again this afternoon to visit the pater, and apparently we're trogging off to Carlisle tomorrow for a little jolly (but at least I can sleep in the car on the way.) Other than that, I plan to lounge around and do some reading and writing this weekend. I'm lending my dad some C.S. Friedman books, as well as Mark del Franco and Anton Strout (books, not the peeps themselves, obviously) so he'll have something new to read along with the Charlie Stross books I got him for his birthday. And with any luck he'll have some books I haven't read and we can swap.

So, does anyone have anything exciting planned for the weekend?

Project: Unnamed UF
New Words: 5,786
Present Total Word Count: 46,021
Goal: 80,000

Click to view daily statistics

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

(Almost) all the leaves are brown...

The last four days have been nice and relaxing and full of sloth. There, I said it - I was bone idle. My brain was fried so I've spent most of the past four days re-watching Supernatural and reading a couple of Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins novels (crime with a paranormal/ Deliverance (as in exorcism) twist.) Good stuff, and nothing like the books I'd been reading prior to that, or anything like the book I'm writing so it was a bit of a headspace holiday.

I'm now on Day Five of the holiday and I thought I'd better get some writing done, just to get back into it before I head back to work; but the drain man's just arrived so I'll blog first and write when he's done. (Victorian drains - you've just got to love them. Sigh.) The dogs are bemused, the tap's running in the bath, and a no-doubt fragrant odour is wafting in the hot sun in as welcome a fashion as a bloated rat at a barbeque. Hopefully, most of my neighbours are still at work.

In other news...I've re-visited a flash piece that didn't work too well and I think I've figured out how to make it better (and, by virtue of it being me, longer.) I've sketched out the first page or so and will work on that as a 'down-time' piece to give me a break from the unnamed one - I shall have to think of a working title for the unnamed one at some point; at 40+K it ought to be called something other than Unnamed UF, eh?
In other, other's boiling. Autumn arrived with crisp air and hazy light, the sound of rooks in the trees; and now, the sun's out, the air is muggy and yellow (thunder on the way perhaps?) and the collies are restless - only one walk so far today, so they're feeling fractious. More exercise for me later then. :->

Back to the day job tomorrow which is good, although it does mean that I'll have to leave the house early as the kids are back at school from today so the roads will be clogged with the school run if you hit it wrong. So I need to be on the road for 07:15 at the latest. ::phbbbbt:: And in a couple of weeks the universities crank up to speed to welcome all the new and returning students and we'll all hit the ground running and won't really stop until mid-October when we'll all collapse into jelly-like heaps and gibber quietly in our offices. But it's all good fun, so bring on the circus!

Right. Enough chit-chattery. Time for some work.

I'll leave you with an update of where I got to last:

Project: Unnamed UF
New Words: 2,392 (over 2 sessions)
Present Total Word Count: 40,235
Goal: 80,000 (although, the first draft is likely to be waaaay longer as I'm pretty sure that I started it in completely the wrong place. Nice to know that there are some constants in life.)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

[metrics] UF (Day 53/90) - (Bank Holiday Monday)

Project: Unnamed UF
New Words: 4,686 (over 2 sessions)
Present Total Word Count: 37,843
Goal: 80,000

Tilly's undergone testing on her shields and has signed a contract for more training on how to control her power - a new plot element cropped up in writing this, so Tilly's contract specifies that if she can't control her power within a set timeframe then she'll be deemed dangerous and will be dealt with by the Magister who holds her contract.

It's still messy, but I can see which things can be tightened and smoothed in revisions so it's not all bad. I'm likely to finish considerably over the word count I'm aiming for but, again, we'll see how things pan out once the revision process has been done.

All in all I'm quite pleased at the progress I've made and have to point the finger at word wars for the assistance.

Friday, August 21, 2009

[metrics] UF - (Day 41/90)

Project: Unnamed UF
New words: 1,495
Present Total Word Count: 25,603
Goal: 80,000

The rogue scenes have been done and we're back onto the scheduled scenes, so the pace (of writing) has picked up a bit.

The PC chum #1 and I bought in February has finally been paid for; after pay day I have to transfer my portion of the holiday money and then I can start saving again. (Yay! Savings! What are those again?) I think people will be subjected to a lot of handmade presents between now and January. Knitting/ cross-stitch/ quilting extravaganza here I come! I think I may have to timetable my weekends. ::sigh::
Anyway, I'm off to the soggy north this afternoon to Newcastle to visit the pater. I'm still undecided as to whether I should risk the A1 (loooooong delays at Gateshead becuase of roadworks) or head up the A19, upon which I have never travelled. The magical mystery tour. Hmmm. Choices.
Ah, the glamour. Can you see it shine?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

[metrics] UF - (Day 39/90)

I've started to slow down in the word wars; I'm writing a couple of scenes that I hadn't planned for in the original outline so I'm picking my way through the dialogue rather than blasting ahead. I knew, going in, that there wouldn't be a clean first draft when I was done, so I'm not overly disappointed, but there will be a significant revision process in my future! Not least because I'd planned the first section (of around 10 scenes) to be between 80 and 100 pages; I am on scene seven (one of the new ones) and I'm 84 pages in, so I'm aware that during the revision process there will be the taking out of 'stuff' as well as the putting in. C'est la vie. But, slow though the progress may be, it is still progress and therefore correctable.

I'm glad that I outlined as I'm notoriously messy without one, and I do allow for deviation/ additions to the plan, but those extra scenes were a surprise I should--perhaps--have anticipated. Not that it would have been a surprise then. Anyway. On to the metrics!

Project: Unnamed UF
New words: 1,495
Present Total Word Count: 25,603
Goal: 80,000

Reason for stopping: Had to get back to day jobbery

Things accomplished in fiction: The second new scene added - again, very slowly.

Things accomplished in real life: Day jobbery - More work on presentations. More e-mail. Publications. Fiddling with e-book lists and web pages.
Non-day-jobbery - More Supernatural. Dogs out for a walk. Watched chum #1 argue with water company that directly outside our house is a Section 24 sewer--which means it's public-- and therefore their responsibility to sort out. (Never give in! Never surrender!) Read some of the new issue of Black Static.

Currently reading: C.L.Wilson's King of Sword & Sky

Bookmark is stuck in: Testament of Youth - Vera Brittain (I'm working on it, but it's slow going)

Staring at me from the sofa: NF book on Georgette Heyer's Regency world

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

[metrics] UF - Day 38 (Monday)

Project: Unnamed UF
New words: 2,542 (this is not all from the same day, but I'm not doing separate posts for it)
Present Total Word Count: 24,108 (up to chapter six)
Goal: 80,000

Reason for stopping: Had to get back to day jobbery

Things accomplished in fiction:
The very slow writing of a scene I hadn't planned at all. Not quite at the gouging each word out with a blunt spoon, but it was getting there.

Things accomplished in real life: Day jobbery - More work on presentations. More e-mail. Meetings with colleagues. Non-day-jobbery - Watched more of season four of Supernatural (I'm catching up). Unpacked a delivery from Tesco (yay! we have cous cous! and soup!)

Currently reading:
C.L.Wilson's Tairen Soul series (book four is out later this year)

Bookmark is stuck in:
Testament of Youth - Vera Brittain (I'm working on it, but it's slow going)

24108 / 80000

Friday, August 14, 2009

[metrics] UF

Location: Orthanc
Listening to: Bella's Lullaby - Carter Burwell

Project: Unnamed UF
New words: 1,416
Present Total Word Count: 21,566
Goal: 80,000

Things accomplished in fiction: Caleb's finally giving Tilly the information she wanted and I'm trying to avoid info-dumpage at this point.

Things accomplished in real life: Finished a powerpoint presentation for work; started planning a tour & presentation; dealt with e-mails &c.
- Took Bear on a training walk, as he's still willful, which knackered us both; tested some more home made Welsh cakes (Chum #1 did a good job, but I'll have to test a few more to make *absolutely* certain.) :oP
- Cleared part of the patio so that the sewerage chappy can get to the drain today. Oh, yes. Hot, muggy weather and the Victorian drains are playing up. Lovely.

Anyway. Progress.

21566 / 80000

Thursday, August 13, 2009

[metrics] UF

I've finally cracked the first 25% (although I can already spot the broken bits that will need extra attention ::sigh::) but progress is good, and anything that's on the page should be fixable, technically. Or at the very least illustrate what not to do next time around.

Project: Unnamed UF
New words: 1,786
Present Total Word Count: 20,150
Goal: 80,000

20150 / 80000

Things accomplished in fiction:
Got Tilly home safe and sound, although not as freaked as she should be, and stopped at the point where Caleb's explaining what's going on and why the foliage went crazy.

Things accomplished in real life:
Almost finished a powerpoint presentation for work, answered some phone enquiries, dealt with work e-mail. Took the dogs out for ball-on-a-rope chucking (although collie #1 isn't allowed off the lead until Friday), went to bed having not seen the Perseid meteor shower. Hopefully next year I'll either not be as tired, or it will be at the weekend.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

[metrics] UF

All is joy! Collie #1 had her stitches out yesterday (2 cysts removed and a spaying) and the vetinry is pleased with the way everything's healing. Histology on the cysts came back clear as well - they were just fatty lumps so she's had the all clear. Much relief in our household, although she's still sulking because even though the cone of misery has now been removed, she still has to wear the sock of humiliation (to stop her from scratching the patch of skin where the vet shaved all the fur off) and she has to go for walks on the lead until Friday-ish. So she's not as Eeyore-ish as before, but she hasn't achieved full collie perkiness yet either.

In other news, the un-named one is galloping apace. I admit ::hangs head:: that I did no writing at the weekend. The sun came out y'see, and there was this giant brolly in the garden that completely covered the sun lounger so that I could be in the sun and not in the sun, and well, there went the weekend really. (Although I did labour over spaghetti bolognese at one point.) I also read the Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills (aka Karen Miller) and enjoyed that to the point that I didn't want to do anything else until I'd finished it. So I didn't. Basically it was a weekend of sloth. It was good sloth. Even the cat thought so - she sat on the other chair. However, even though I did bog all at the weekend, I did lots yesterday and some today...

Project: Unnamed UF
New words: 3,869
Present Total Word Count: 18,364
Goal: 80,000

18364 / 80000

Friday, August 07, 2009

[metrics] UF

Location: Orthanc
Listening to: Preparation: Shackleton - Adrian Johnston
Mood: Accomplished

Project: Unnamed UF
New words: 1,239
Present Total Word Count: 14,495
Goal: 80,000

I managed to get the boys' ritual planned out yesterday - I'd left that as a gap in the MS while I thought about it, but now I'm reasonably happy with what I have. (As a first draft, anyway.) I'm aiming to crack 20k by the end of the weekend and as I have the house to myself until about 16:30hrs tomorrow, I should be able to manage that. (Interspersed with dog walking and familial visitations and the like.)

In other news, we have been quite frugal and healthy of late. Wednesday we had tuna pasta bake for tea, and there was enough left to take to work on Thursday. Thursday I made prawn risotto, and again there was enough to bring in to work today (add some pickled chilis to it for a little kick - lovely!) And tonight it is sausage and bean chowder. All cheap, cheerful, and healthy (apart from the cheese on the tuna pasta bake - but there wasn't a lot of that, I swear.) :-P

14495 / 80000

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The trouble with meeces

The squeaking, furry, oh my god hide from the cat/ dog behind the bookcase kind.
Normally, our cat will start to torment and consume the little rodents during the autumn; occasionally releasing one into captivity in the house for us to race round in an attempt to capture it before it hides in the walls and breeds. The second year in this house we had an infestation of mice. It was like living in Lovecraft's The Rats in the Walls. Seriously. >.<

Sunday night she lost one in the back room and we couldnt' get it. An hour later, Baby Bear wandered in and gently deposited something on the living room carpet, then stood back and stared at us as if to say What do I do now?
Yes. He'd found the mouse; gently picked it up and carried it in for us to deal with. (I deposited it back into the wild.)

Last night, she brought in a tiny field mouse which Chum #1 managed to trap under one of the dog's dinner bowls. Again, it made it back outside. If she's doing this now, god only knows what she's going to be bringing in during the autumn/ winter months. Capybara's?

[metrics] UF progress

Word wars rock! I feel very accomplished.

Project: Unnamed UF
New words: 1,143
Present Total Word Count: 13,256
Goal: 80,000

Brice: got the ritual he wanted and his friend 'officially' on his side
Caleb: gave up some blood and had a moment
Tilly: Her boredom is about to come to an abrupt end
Things that got beat up today: Nothing yet, but it's coming.

Random sampling of text:
“You know,” Brice said slowly, “in the old days the allegiance ceremony was done in a more traditional way.”
Caleb smirked. “In the dark, you mean?”
“Very funny.” Brice mock frowned, curling his lip to expose his teeth. “Actually, I was referring to the fact that the blood exchange wasn’t done with a chalice.” He looked at Caleb, unable to hide his hopeful expression. “It was a direct exchange. Some people still believe that any alliances forged in that way are stronger.”

13256 / 80000

Monday, August 03, 2009

[metrics] UF

Had another word war yesterday evening and managed to jiggle out another 2K or so and I'm into chapter four so we're ticking along nicely.

Project: Unnamed UF (I have no idea what this is going to be called - Tilly's Tribulations?)
New words: 2,706
Present Total Word Count: 12,113
Goal: 80,000

12113 / 80000

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Is it the weekend yet?

Location: Orthanc2

Mood: Exhausted

Collie #1 had successful surgery yesterday to remove a couple of cysts and, while she was under, to be spayed. The operation went well although she was groggy and cold when I got her home, so we did the pack thing and snuggled on the sofa with her under a blanket. Collies 2 & 3 rallied round as well, so that was good.

Today I am exhausted from not having slept well. She wouldn't go to sleep without knowing I was there so I dozed with either a leg or an arm out of the bed that she could lean on (part of it was that she had the 'do not lick your wounds' plastic cone of misery on her head). Once she was sure I wasn't going anywhere she went to sleep. If she's the same tonight I'm just going to get my sleeping bag out and sleep on the floor - it's times like these I wish I'd hung on to my futon.

She's much more chipper today; the vet said to keep her quiet so the grandparents will have their work cut out for them - keeping a border collie quiet once she's feeling better is no easy task.

So, today is a day of brain-deadiness through lack of sleep and a cold (no oinking yet!) I can hardly wait to go home so that I can lie down. But at least the pre-/post-operative worries are over.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Jollification over. Reporting for duty.

Mood: Tired
Where: Orthanc

Holiday over - back to the grindstone. (The updating of publications...oh, the glamour)
I had a nice relaxing time off; read a lot, wrote a bit, went and saw Harry Potter (not bad, but it lacked the zoom zoom pace of Order of the Phoenix - bit of a filler, I think.)

Fiona Glass
has been doing posts on people's desks up on her blog. Mine went up on Friday and you can take a look at it here.

meta_writer are starting a new series of Back to Basics (of writing) posts today, and these will run until the 28th of July, so go along and check them out/ comment.

The as yet untitled YA urban fantasy is jogging along (although, as ever, it's started in the wrong place, but that's what revisions are for, eh?)

I'm aiming for a first draft finish date of 7th October. We shall see.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Two things...

Location: Orthanc
Music: Mountain Crossing - Shackleton OST
Mood: Pleased

First, Lynn Viehl - author of the Stardoc and Darkyn series, will be running her Left Behind & Loving It week of virtual workshops. These are taking place at the same time as the Romance Divas workshops and RWA's National Conference. There are some great workshops in her line-up, so go check out the post!

Secondly, (and probably only of interest to me) I'm nearly on holiday! Yay! Just had a succesful school visit at work which went really well and was a good way to round off the week, so I'm feeling nicely upbeat. All I need now is about 18 hours of sleep and I should be right. I'm not going anywhere as chum #1 can't take time off in the summer due to being a children's librarian, but that's okay. I'll just lounge around the house until the dogs plague me into taking them for (another) walk.
I have writing and editing to do and no need to get up at 05:30 for work so I'm hoping it will be a lovely combination of relaxing and productive.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Romance Divas: Not Going to Conference Conference

So, you can't go to the RWA conference this year? Well, don't fret for long. Romance Divas is hosting their annual NGTCC (Not Going To Conference Conference) and it's going to be fun-filled. Already they've got great guest spots lined up, including: Josh Lanyon, Rowan Mcbride, Jet Mykles and Shayla Kersten, Carrie Jones, Marley Gibson, Linnea Sinclair, Patti O'Shea, Ona Russel, Steve Hockingsmith, Joey W. Hill and Sasha White.

There will be workshops for just about every genre, from Young Adult to Erotic to Historical. Plus, a workshop on Deep POV, one on going from e-publishing to NY, and a Q&A on how avoid and deal with burnout. And there's bound to be a few surprises, too. icon_wink.gif

The NGTCC kicks off July 14th and runs until July 18th. If you're not already a member of Romance Divas, all you have to do is go to the website and register! Best of all--it's FREE!

NGTCC Banner

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Oh, yeah...

White rabbits.

E-books: fair price or overinflated?

J.A. Konrath had an interesting post last month on the cost of e-books, delving into issues with DRM and publishers seeming inability to move (in a timely fashion) with new and emerging technologies.
The rules of supply and demand don't work in a digital world, because the supply is unlimited. You don't fight piracy with weapons. You fight piracy with cost and convenience.
Personally, I don't - and won't - buy e-books that cost the same (or near enough) to the hardback price. An author whose work I love had a new book out in hardback last year. I had all the others in paperback and couldn't really justfy the hardback expense, especially as hbks are less portable so I thought I'd get the e-book version to read there and then, and get the paperback when it came out a year later. Well. The e-book cost exactly the same as the hardback so needless to say, I waited the year until the paperback came out. I could have got the hardback secondhand for less, but I wanted it new - nice shiny book for me/ money for the author = win. But, if only the cost of the e-book version had been the same as (or less than) the cost of the mass market paperback, I would have willingly paid for both versions. EpicFail.
E-publishers get the model right, but (it appears to me) that print publishers are missing an opportunity.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend jollification

Listening to: Infinite White - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Mood: Cream-crackered

Visited the paterfamilias this weekend up in not-so-sunny Newcastle; they got all the rain my allotment needs. ::grrrr::
Had a nice time, though. Went to Borders as per usual and actually found some books to buy (in the last few months visits to Borders stores generally have been disappointing stock-wise.) They are still engaged in epic Locus-fail, mind. February's issue is still on the shelf with no sign of anything more recent. I may have to give in and subscribe. ::sighs dramatically::
Along with the books I bought, Dad lent me some of his so I have now added to the Tower of To-Be-Read: Acacia, and The Accidental Sorcerer. (Actually, it's quite fortunate that the TBR books are not, actually, in a single tower. Otherwise someone would come home one day and find me with my feet sticking out from under a mass of books - a bit like the Wicked Witch.

I also managed to get a DVD of Brazil by Terry Gilliam - I love this film. Taped it off the tv aeons ago and when the tape died never got round to getting a copy, but as I was wandering round the shop there it was. Right at short-person height. And cheap! So I caved, and at some point this week will indulge in dystopic wierdness with glee.

Also, despite being on a visitation, I managed to get some work done on worldbuilding over the weekend as well as fitting in time for a swim, so actually it was all rather productive. That doesn't happen often!

Currently reading: Testament of Youth - Vera Brittain
Editing: Sokoll's Hawks
Other: YAUF worldbuilding

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The bathtub of perserverance

Interesting post (complete with diagrams) from Brad Torgersen (via jay lake) comparing a writer's persistence and practice with the (slow) filling of a bath.
Good stuff.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Back to the Future?

Mood: Cheerful
Listening to: Unwell - Matchbox Twenty

Went to the cinema on Saturday and saw Drag Me To Hell by the Raimi brothers? Cousins?
I have to say that I felt as though I'd been sucked right back to the 1980s, it felt/ came across very much as a film of that time. I laughed rather than being scared, and there were a couple of extremely gross moments. The best bit was the sinister, talking goat. I won't be seeing it again, nor will I be getting it on DVD, but it whiled away a couple of hours.

Next week - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen! (Explosions; running; explosions; rinse, repeat.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Adventures in Cooking...

Mood: Hungry
Listening to: The Most Dangerous Predator - Carter Burwell

Removing unidentifiable brown goo from the freezer and hoping that it is, in fact, the remains of the chicken stew you made, froze, and forgot about. Thankfully it was, although it was the really salty version as I cheated and used stock cubes, which when combined with copious amounts of Worcester sauce meant that there was lots of water drinking required.
Chum #1 made bananas in greek youghurt sprinkled with dark muscovado sugar for dessert (we saw it on Market Kitchen) - you shove everything together with the sugar on top, stick it in the fridge for an hour or so and the sugar melts. Tasted lovely!

Working today. >:( Should get home about 17:00hrs and then it's off to the pictures to (probably) see Drag Me To Hell. You'll like it, apparently, if you like Evil Dead/ Shaun of the Dead humour-wise.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What the hey?

Why is it that, when you have stuff to write and lots of editing to do, you suddenly get a new idea and a preface. (With absolutely no idea where the story's going to go from there?)

Enquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thunderbird & Lightning

Mood: Mellow
Listening to: Five Miles a Day - Shackleton OST

Well, it's Thunderbird & Lightning, and extremely wet at the moment.The dry/ cloudy/ humid weather of the last couple of days has broken with a vengeance, so I expect I shall have to check the allotment this weekend to make sure plants haven't got washed away downslope.

I love it when it thunders; you get all that tension in your head as everything builds up and then it explodes across the sky and releases it all. Fantastic! The rain's soothing as well; not as relaxing as just hearing it on trees rather than pavement, but still nice.

Chum #1 has been to the Library & Information Show today and will be bringing pizza with her on her way home. Yay! No cooking tonight. Although I have been good and done half the washing up; I'll do the other half when the first load has drip-dried.

I know. I can barely take the excitement of my hectic social whirl, myself. ::big_grin::

Which fantasy writer are you?

Ganked from various people on LiveJournal:

Your result for Which fantasy writer are you?...

David Eddings (b. 1931)

-1 High-Brow, 7 Violent, -7 Experimental and 5 Cynical!

Congratulations! You are Low-Brow, Violent, Traditional and Cynical! These concepts are defined below.

David Eddings is the best-selling author of several series of fantasy novels, the most famous being The Belgariad (1982-84) and The Malloreon (1988-92). These books have become almost epitomic of the kind of fantasy that is fast-paced, full of humorous dialogue and written to entertain. And entertain they do. Few other writers have Eddings' ability to create characters that not only makes the reader feel as if he or she knows them, but are also very likeable. Perhaps this is due to Eddings unusual path to writing fantasy: He had tried writing in other genres with moderate success when he discovered that fantasy, a genre he had hitherto not been interested in, sometimes sells very well, and therefore started turning an old sketch of a map into a series of books. Without an interest in experimenting with form or pushing the boundaries of the genre, Eddings created the penultimate light entertainment instead, trusting his readers to keep reading because of charming characters and exotic, though not particularly original, environments.

After the success of The Belgariad and The Malloreon, Eddings turned to writing fantasy which was, supposedly, aimed at a more adult audience. The tendency towards violence as entertainment that had been present through-out his early works grew more prominent in the series of The Elenium (1989-91)and The Tamuli (1992-94). It was also around this time that David Eddings wife, Leigh Eddings, was credited as the co-author of his books, though they admitted that she had been contributing from the very beginning.

Though Eddings isn't the most high cultured of fantasy writers, few would dispute that when it comes to charm, he has no rivals.

You are also a lot like J R R Tolkien.

If you want something more gentle, try Robert Jordan.

If you'd like a challenge, try your exact opposite, Tove Jansson.

Your score

This is how to interpret your score: Your attitudes have been measured on four different scales, called 1) High-Brow vs. Low-Brow, 2) Violent vs. Peaceful, 3) Experimental vs. Traditional and 4) Cynical vs. Romantic. Imagine that when you were born, you were in a state of innocence, a tabula rasa who would have scored zero on each scale. Since then, a number of circumstances (including genetical, cultural and environmental factors) have pushed you towards either end of these scales. If you're at 45 or -45 you would be almost entirely cynical, low-brow or whatever. The closer to zero you are, the less extreme your attitude. However, you should always be more of either (eg more romantic than cynical). Please note that even though High-Brow, Violent, Experimental and Cynical have positive numbers (1 through 45) and their opposites negative numbers (-1 through -45), this doesn't mean that either quality is better. All attitudes have their positive and negative sides, as explained below.

High-Brow vs. Low-Brow

You received -1 points, making you more Low-Brow than High-Brow. Being high-browed in this context refers to being more fascinated with the sort of art that critics and scholars tend to favour, while a typical low-brow would favour the best-selling kind. At their best, low-brows are honest enough to read what they like, regardless of what "experts" and academics say is good for them. At their worst, they are more likely to read what their neighbours like than what they would choose themselves.

Violent vs. Peaceful

You received 7 points, making you more Violent than Peaceful. Please note that violent in this context does not mean that you, personally, are prone to violence. This scale is a measurement of a) if you are tolerant to violence in fiction and b) whether you see violence as a means that can be used to achieve a good end. If you are, and you do, then you are violent as defined here. At their best, violent people are the heroes who don't hesitate to stop the villain threatening innocents by means of a good kick. At their worst, they are the villains themselves.

Experimental vs. Traditional

You received -7 points, making you more Traditional than Experimental. Your position on this scale indicates if you're more likely to seek out the new and unexpected or if you are more comfortable with the familiar, especially in regards to culture. Note that traditional as defined here does not equal conservative, in the political sense. At their best, traditional people don't change winning concepts, favouring storytelling over empty poses. At their worst, they are somewhat narrow-minded.

Cynical vs. Romantic

You received 5 points, making you more Cynical than Romantic. Your position on this scale indicates if you are more likely to be wary, suspicious and skeptical to people around you and the world at large, or if you are more likely to believe in grand schemes, happy endings and the basic goodness of humankind. It is by far the most vaguely defined scale, which is why you'll find the sentence "you are also a lot like x" above. If you feel that your position on this scale is wrong, then you are probably more like author x. At their best, cynical people are able to see through lies and spot crucial flaws in plans and schemes. At their worst, they are overly negative, bringing everybody else down.

Take Which fantasy writer are you?
at HelloQuizzy

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The listing of to do...

Listening to: I Caught Myself - Paramore
Mood: Tired bunny.

My two presentations went well last week. They were preceded by a colleague who did a very interactive, upbeat session - nonetheless, no-one was bored to tears/ unconsciousness, nor was there a mad rush to the coffee afterwards (it was more of a dignified amble) so joy-joy feelings on that one!

My re-telling of Beauty & the Beast is standing at 3,668 words so far. I've been 'paused' for the last week or so for downtime. My brain needed a rest, so I fed it music for a while. (The soundtrack to Channel 4's dramatisation Shackleton is fantastic btw)

In progress
Beauty & the Beast (which will not be called that in the final version) - futuristic fairy tale -- 3,668 words and counting --
Model of Perfection - Georgian romance -- 17, 439 words and counting --

On the edits roster
Sokoll's Hawks - contemporary, military m/m -- 13,212 words at the first draft --
Wish Child - dark fantasy --9,316 words at the first draft--
Does Old Earth Dream of Green, Green Things? - futuristic -- 6,176 words at the first draft --
Three's Company - erotic romance -- 37,068 words at the second draft --

To edit or to write? That is the question.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Back to work...

Well, my brief holiday is over and it's back to work - and the preparation for a presentation I have to give at a staff conference next Thursday & Friday (the 4th & 5th of June). I was volunteered for this, so it should be interesting as I have to do a 20 minute session on effective Google searching (aka Improving Your Google-fu) using interactive voting pads. *cough* I know what I'll be doing for the next little while, then. ::grrr::

Apart from that, the sun is trying to shine through the cloud cover; my vitamin D euphoria is wearing off slowly and I'm working until 21:00hrs on my first day back. Typical.

Beauty and the Beast retelling is going well; I'll do more on that later - see if I can get it up to 8k. (considering where I am in the tale at 3.6k, it's going to be over 10k by the time I'm done

Mood: Hyper
Music: Never Think - Rob Pattinson

Monday, May 25, 2009

Twilight - original score

Okay. I have to admit it. I've got soundtrack love. I watched Twilight last weekend - enjoyed the film - and the music stayed in my mind. All night. All week. I got my housemate (she of public librarian-ness) to bring the OST home from work. Listened to that and enjoyed it, but it was music from the film i.e. songs by various artists; I still wanted the score.

Gave in on Saturday night and downloaded the original score from iTunes (£7.99, as opposed to £18.99 on Amazon. I know that putting it on a CD and in a box makes it more expensive but £11 more?) Well. My ears / brain are in love. Most of the pieces are fairly short; none are over five minutes, but they work nonetheless.
Carter Burwell has done a good job of creating pieces that stick in your mind and alter your mood. He's also managed to evoke wet forests in Oregon (or Wales - to me they're fairly interchangeable. Apart from the bears. And the docking great trees) with just a few seconds of music.

I'm very pleased that I gave in to the urge to get the album, although when my housemate returns from the joys of the Hay literature festival she will probably tell me to put my headphones on when it starts to make its fifth go-round!


You Are Rosemary

You are stable and grounded. You may take a slow, steady approach to live, but you're a survivor.

You are an intellectual and very rational. You can see things from a logical, detached viewpoint.

You are successful but not particularly ambitious. You have a way of letting success come to you.

You tend to be a bit understated and modest. You let your accomplishments speak for themselves.

This is rather ironic as it's one of the plants - despite my generally green hands - that I have difficulty keeping alive in the garden. It seems to be doing well in the allotment so far though, so let's keep our fingers crossed, eh?
Mood: Thoughtful
Music: The lion fell in love with the lamb - Twilight OST

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fairy tales & Interzone

The mental block I had in regard to my retelling of Beauty and the Beast has been resolved. (It's amazing what a cheese and pickle sandwich (Collier's and Branston, if you were curious) and a mocha in the student cafe can do to your thought patterns.) Along with the Sisters of Mercy. Thank God for the Pod of i.

Anyway, Beauty & the Beast - set in the future, on a spaceship. With peril, pride, and prejudice, and the odd threat of being chucked out of the airlock for bad behaviour.

And let's see if we can keep the damn thing short, shall we?

Also: Just read Aliette de Bodard's Ys in the current Interzone, liked it a lot - and I also want to go and visit Brittany now. Aliette's also no. 10 in the Reader's Poll top 20 for 2008! So way to go, Aliette!

Kim Lakin-Smith's tale in this issue of Interzone was also very compelling - a mixture of retro and futuristic which I enjoyed. I haven't read all the way through it yet, but it looks like a good issue so far.

Scribd Lanches Scribd Store

Of potential interest:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(MARKET WIRE)--May 18, 2009 -- Scribd, the world's largest social publishing company, today announced the beta launch of Scribd Store, a first-of-its-kind e-commerce destination and publishing marketplace where anyone -- from professional publishers and authors to students and enthusiasts -- can upload and sell their written works to a readership of 60 million.

You can read the rest of the article here

It will be interesting to see how this will work - will people use this as an alternative to Lulu, or other POD/ e-download stores. I imagine some authors who already put shorts/ novellas on Scribd for free will continue to do so, but I wonder whether there will be an influx (or even a trickle) of people who haven't used Scribd before listing their work and selling it direct?

Any thoughts?

[metrics] Progress & reading matter

Progress was made yesterday! Minimal amount of extra wordage on DOEDoGGT, but this has brought the first draft to a (very) rough and ready close. I shall sit on that for a bit while I do revisions on Wish Child and then attack it.

Does Old Earth Dream of Green, Green Things?
6176 / 6000

So yes, pleased with that.

Busy day today as I'm covering a desk for a colleague, and then interviewing all afternoon but it will bring me another day closer to my six day bank holiday weekend (what? why have one extra day when you can have three?)
And it will be good to have that time off (and the house to myself (and the border collies and the cat)) as Amazon UK delivered!

Waiting for my undivided attention are:

Transgressions by Erastes
False Colors by Alex Beecroft
The Turning Tide by Diana Pharoah Francis
The Trouble with Demons by Lisa Shearin

And on top of that, the latest issue of Interzone (222) has arrived so there are joy, joy feelings all 'round, basically.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cyborg name

Mechanical Electronic Replicant Intended for Assassination, Destruction and Online Calculation

Get Your Cyborg Name


Weekend - not bad if you like rain.

No writing over the weekend, although Friday's wordcount was good, so I'm pleased with that as I got another 2,207 words on the short which brings it up to:

Does Old Earth Dream of Green, Green Things?
5948 / 6000

It's also rather obvious that I'm going to have to revise the first draft wordcount up (again) so I think I'll take it up to 10K and if it's done before then that's fine.

Saturday I read The Black Ship by Diana Pharoah Francis - really enjoyed it; Thorn is a great character and I liked the fact that he hung onto his integrity no matter what people did to him. I also liked the fact that the Captain and Thorn's crimpers didn't turn on him once they found out how Pilot's are made. I'm looking forward to reading the Turning Tide (Amazon UK I am looking at you. And tapping my fingers.)
It was my turn to cook, so I did cold weather food (it had been wazzing with rain on and off all day): sausage (cumberland), mash, peas, and gravy. Lovely! I then had a retro moment and watched the first two Star Trek films - it'd been years since I'd seen them and it was interesting to watch them when I'd just seen the new Star Trek film last weekend.

Sunday I was up early to go swimming with Chum #1, her brother, his wife, and their four children. Mayhem ensued, naturally and lots of pool water was swallowed by over-excited children. We all repaired home for a cup of tea and then cleaning was done, which involved the donation of a lot of my books that I'd shoved in boxes and forgotten about being given to our local RSPCA shop to sell. (It also meant that I found some books I'd forgotten about that I wanted to hang on to, so they've now made their way upstairs to 'rest' on the landing for a bit while I decide where to put them.

So, properly exhausted, I went to bed like a good librarian and now the week has started again. BUT! The second bank holiday of the month is approaching and I will be off for SIX days! Yay!

How did your weekend go?

Friday, May 15, 2009

[metrics] Earth story

Took part in word wars yesterday on LJ and managed a fairly decent word count (for me, anyway.) I had to increase the word limit to 6K, but I'll work on getting it back down again when I go through the first revision as, although I need to know how things started, I don't think the reader does. We'll see.

Anyway, added 1,670 new words yesterday. Progress. We haz it.

Does Old Earth Dream of Green, Green Things?

3024 / 6000

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Interesting article: The Eroticization of Equality and Social Justice

pointed out an interesting article written by Hillary Rettig, who talks about love as a progressive activity and how (and why) it's denigrated in society. It's very thought-provoking - as are some of the texts she quotes - and I think it's well worth a read.

You can get access to the article here: The Eroticization of Equality and Social Justice


"Therefore, they have to be made good...a good person -- a moral person -- is someone who is disciplined enough to be obedient..."

This quote, from George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant which is mentioned in Rettig's article, is often (I think) the basis of many dystopic stories, where the elite's self-percieved utopia is brought about by demanding absolute obedience from the proles (whoever they may be in the context of the story.) And of course, a side effect of that is the creation of a dystopic society where individual freedom or expression can be seen as disobedience and is therefore punished.

Interesting reading, anyway.

Monday, May 11, 2009

New, Genre Creative Writing MA

Edinburgh Napier University has launched the UK's first genre-based Creative Writing MA which could change the landscape of creative writing in Scotland.

This is via the literaturetraining newsletter - more details on their website here; information on the part-time degree here, and the full-time degree here.

NB: I do not work at Napier University, have never worked there, and I'm not endorsing the course (never having been on it). I just thought it was interesting that someone was providing a course specific to genre fiction - although they seem to have left off a couple of genres as historical fiction, westerns, and romance aren't mentioned (although perhaps that's due to a lack of tutors/ perceived lack of interest from potential students - who knows?)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Early start to the weekend!

I shall be finishing work shortly to head off up to Newcastle to visit my Dad for the weekend - always best to get an early start when the M1/ A1 is involved :-<
Hopefully we shall follow the time honoured tradition of heading out to Borders at Silverlink tonight (where I shall whether they still have epic Locusfail or not - even in the UK; even with the economic downturn, one would think that they could - at the very least - get the next to latest issue of Locus in the shop. We shall see. I am not holding my breath as hypoxia is not good for Merry.)

Then perhaps, the cinema? Trek, or Wolverine? Choices, choices.

And hopefully there will be the sun, so that I can sit outside while reading more of Roy Porter's English Society in the 18th Century

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Taters! And other stuff...

Spuds are in the allotment; tomatoes are in pots (and cloches) in the garden, along with some spinach, and a lot of weeding / de-nettling of areas has taken place.
There're still a number of spinach / cabbage / chinese cabbage plants to go into the allotment, but now that I've found the fleece I can protect them from any frosts we may still get in the next month.
Will it get warmer; colder; wetter? Usually if it's nice in April we get huge amounts of rain after that with the odd frost - hopefully it won't be enough to kill any of the veg off.

I planted a lot of hundred-weight pumpkin seeds, as well as a whole tray of sunflower seeds, so we'll see how many of those come up and can be transplanted. I've still got beans to plant along with sweet peas for pollination and I have a packet of tagetes that I can put in around the cabbages etc. which should encourage pollinators and (hopefully) keep most of the munchers away from the food plants.

We live in hope.

The chap with the allotment next to mine has moved his ferrets & polecats down from his old plot. They look sweet and are apparently very friendly and don't bite, so I may end up holding one at some point.

Joy for yesterday: My car passed its MOT (eventually - needed a few things fixing) so I can keep going for at least another year, unless something drops off.

Joy for today: a 3 1/2 hour meeting for work (interesting subject - all about student induction - but I hope there will be a decent break for coffee in there somewhere)

Joy for tomorrow: taking the day off so that I can have a long weekend to go with Bank Holiday monday.

Monday, April 27, 2009

[travel] Oxford jollification

Lots of jollification lately!
Went to Oxford on Saturday to have the extended tour of the Bodleian. We travelled from work so I had to leave home at 06:30hrs to get there for 07:15; we made good time and got to Oxford's park and ride at about 09:20 so we had a nice, steady walk to the Library.
The tour started off in the School of Divinity and headed off to Duke Humfrey's library - he was the person to first set up a library here in the 1400s; Thomas Bodley restored it around 1602. Duke Humphrey's library contains chained books and was used in the Harry Potter films. We weren't allowed to take any photos there, so here's a link to a picture of the restored ceiling.

I did get to see Convocation House where Parliament met during the Civil War:
Convocation House1

and also managed to get into Christ Church cathedral to see some of the windows:
Christ Church_Jonah Window

More pictures can be seen here

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bath Pic Spam

So, a bit late but, I was in Bath last week for a bit of a jolly and took some photos of interesting sculptures that were placed around the Abbey. I also took some of the buildings as a visual research guide for the Georgian WiP.

The Big Bull and the Big Hare were right next to each other on plinths.

The Hares and Dogs were outside the Pump Room (which does nice, but expensive, afternoon tea)

All in all I had a nice time despite being ill, and it was nice to visit the town again.

A few other pictures can be seen here.

Edited to add: Sculptures are by Sophie Ryder.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunny Sunday

Well, I've just had a gloriously sunny day which has more than made up for the grim hanging disease I've had over the Easter break. The cough is still with me, but at least I can go out in public without twenty boxes of tissues to back me up.
The spa was great. I had reflexology in the morning which was incredibly relaxing - I could've gone to sleep quite happily - and then went and did all of the water treatments & had a swim after lunch (after a decent interval, naturally).
The day after that I went down to Bath and had a lovely time wandering around and getting some pictures of the streets and houses. I also had a gorgeous, cinnamon butter Sally Lunn bun on one day, and a Lady's Tea on another - very nice.

Came home and spent a few days in bed with the chest infection, but got out and about in the last couple of days. Yesterday, I got a load of veg plants to go in the garden / allotment and today I weeded one of the beds and planted some peas, while a mate dug another bit over. There will be be fresh veg throughout the summer! Also, there will be fresh eggs as the chap with the patch next to me has chickens who are good layers and he has more eggs than he knows what to do with!Back to work tomorrow, and there will be a lot to do, so it will be busy, busy, busy but I'm hoping to get the second draft of Wish Child done as it does need tidying up, but at least the core is there.

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter break (of whatever duration it may have been) and that Spring has finally sprung.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Joy, joy feelings...

First draft of Wish Child has been completed and comes in at 9,316 words so I'm pleased with that. I'm away at a Spa tomorrow - sort of a birthday present to myself for Monday - and then I'm down to Bath for jollification on Thursday so while I'm there (in between sight-seeing and eating) I can revise Wish Child in the evenings in the Youth Hostel. Ah, the glamour!

Next up
-- More research for the Georgian novel
-- More worldbuilding for the paranormal YA novel
-- Revising Sokoll's Hawks
-- Fairy tale re-telling of Beauty & the Beast (or Rapunzel - haven't quite decided)

On the (immediate) TBR pile
  • Deader Still by Anton Strout ([info]antonstrout ) (this one is actually on my desk at work, staring accusingly at me because the bookmark is still stuck in the back where I put it on Sunday afternoon - my excuse reason for that is that I'm really tired and looking forward to a few days off work)
  • The Immortal Hunter by Lynsay Sands
  • Georgian London by John Summerson
  • The Cipher by Diana Pharoah Francis ([info]difrancis ) (a re-read in preparation for The Black Ship)

Friday, April 03, 2009

[Links] Link Salad: Writing

Almost, but not quite, caught up on the blogosphere after having been away at a conference for three days (leaving Cardiff ahead of the Wales-Germany match) and I've come across some interesting / useful links. Which you may have already come across as I'm a bit late to the party. But, hey.

[info]valarltd talks about writing now, rather than waiting for that mythic golden (time) egg to land in your lap

[info]seanan_mcguire talks in a similar vein about managing your time against the time-suck of life (and she has other useful / interesting opinion pieces of which this is #26 out of a proposed #50)

[info]jimvanpelt has an interesting post on dialogue (and a lot of posts generally on writing which are linked at the end of this post)

And Melanie & Steve Tem have a post at Storytellersunplugged about fitting writing in, finding bits of time to write, and also making time for life as well

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Haven't fallen off the edge of the world

I'm quickly typing this after breakfast in the hotel and hopefully I'll have a chance to upload it when I get near the university's WiFi network. I am at a conference for the day jobbery (Monday through Wednesday) so there isn't all that much opportunity to get online - especially when the hotel charge £15 (c. US$21.30) per 24hrs for the Internet. I'll wait for the free WiFi, thanks. So if I haven't responded to any messages/ e-mail etc. I *will*, it's just at the moment I have extremely small pockets of time to get online so most things will have to wait until Thursday.

I still have a fairytale to write as well as finishing the last scene of Wish Child, but with any luck I'll be able to do that on the train home on Wednesday as it's more direct. (so I won't have to keep turning off the laptop to dive off the train!)


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Flycon - Day 2

flycon2009 got off to a good start yesterday, although I didn't manage to join in until 3pm UK time - I took the afternoon off work but then had to pick up the dogs, have lunch, get laundry on etc. but then managed to sit down at the computer in time for the Panel on The Business of E-Publishing - it was interesting, with some very good comments going round. It was held in the forums on so should still be up there if people want to go along and see what was said/ add commentary etc. Check the Flycon community for links.

The next Panel I 'went to' was When is Young Adult not really for Young Adults - again, interesting and I'm definitely going to go back to that one to see if any more comments have been made on this topic.

Book Promotions: What works.. was the last one I attended (10pm my time) and what came out of that - to me - is that there are no glaring examples of what works, rather you try different things and build readers up that way. But, offering excerpts of the new work or a free copy of an earlier work are more likely to inspire people to buy what you're offering, because you're showing them why they should (through the quality of your writing.)

This morning, I've just finished attending a Panel on Is the Vampire the new Zombie? And while we didn't really come to a conclusion on that one, we did discuss a little the short-shrift zombies get in comparison to the vampire (with all their sexy, sparkly moodiness that makes them more human) although it was agreed that the idea of a 'sexy' zombie would be a hard sell - what with bits dropping off, the smell, and the whole trying to prevent them from eating your brains. But it was good, and interesting, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the Panels / chats I want to go to.

But now...Laundry! Yes. My life is that exciting. I may even get to hang it on the line today. \0/

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Progress (& convention)

Another 947 words on Wish Child, which brings it up to 5,454 and we're on the downward slide to the finale. One and a half scenes to go and the first draft will be done! Joy joy feelings!

Also, I plan to 'attend' the LiveJournal online convention FlyCon - take a look at the schedule; there's a fantastic range of panels to choose from (although I may have to cry off some of the early morning ones -- even though they look really good, I'm past the age where I can stay up till 4am, go to bed and then get up at 6:30am and actually be coherent.)

So...Wish Child

Now, off to swimming!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Technology...we loves it.

What is it about 2009?
My DVD player croaked. Then my video decided it didn't want to work anymore. Then, my housemate's stereo and PC gave up the ghost as well, so I've spent today getting a new PC and installing software etc. in between doing the washing-up, making dinner and feeding the Pack.

Touch wood, everything seems to be working okay - but honestly, it's like all the tech has been cursed to give up at the same time! Hopefully, that's it for tech trauma this year!

It's 1 minute away, so Happy St. David's Day!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

[writing] Progress

Wish Child
Previous count - 1961 words
New count - 4507
New words - 2546
Woo! Except, I was aiming for around 3K - the story isn't finished yet and I'm already 1.5K over my planned limit.
Does this happen to other people? Do you aim for a story of a certain length, go over and then cut? Or do you manage to stick pretty much to the word count you set yourself? I must admit, I didn't plan this story out - no outline at all - but even with an outline I'm prone to exceeding my self-imposed word limit. ::blows raspberry at self::
Ah, well. Time for a bath and then the joy that is...Iron Man! yay!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Proof of snow! This is what it looked like last week when it first started on the Sunday / Monday.

The Back Garden 4

And this is how we keep warm. Open fire heats a back-boiler which sends lovely hot water to the (4) radiators we have in the house. (With varying degrees of success - with only one radiator downstairs it will always be cold in winter.) Ug! Bonfire!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Got a good start on the dark fantasy / horror short 'The Wish Child'

I'll hopefully be able to get some more written (and maybe typed up) tonight as I'm not working late this evening. Yay!

Listening to: Wish you were here by Pink Floyd
Mood: Chipperly productive, dahlinks!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

First draft done! (Finally!!)

First draft of Sokoll's Hawks is done, coming in at 13,212 words (as opposed to the 6,000 I was originally aiming for). So that's off to sit in a drawer while I:
~ plan another short
~ take 3's Company out of the drawer for revisions
~ look over Model of Perfection ready to continue with chapter 4

I worked from home today due to excessive ice on the road outside and had a very productive day there, and now I've had a productive evening too! All iz joyful.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Last day of January...already!

Well, it's been a little while - I've managed to keep up with reading friend's entries but with little else. (I shudder to think what my cumulated Google Reader entries number now).

I'm typing up some longhand I did on Sokoll's Hawks (God - when will it end? It was only supposed to be 6k long!). I did manage to write some longhand during the week, not as much as I'd have liked because my coughing has meant disturbed nights and therefore knackered days. Ended up with a migraine on Tuesday which probably had nothing to do with the cough, but certainly didn't help. :o(

And then on Thursday night I read Josh Lanyon's The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks. I was only going to read a couple of chapters before going to sleep but ended up reading to the end (at 00:50hrs) as every time I got to the end of a chapter I had to read 'just one more' (yeah, yeah - I should know better by now!)

Today I've:
Read Passage - book 3 in Lois McMaster Bujold's Sharing knife series - loved it. Want to read it again.

Recieved Jim Hines' Goblin Quest, as well as the I Do anthology today - so they've been added to the TBR pile

Made chicken stew and discovered we had hardly any potatoes, so then made dumplings with Tuscan herbs to with it (thank you interwebs for a 3 ingredient recipe)

Thought about doing the washing up but then allowed myself to get distracted. ;oD

Anyway, not a day of huge achievements - but I didn't spend it in bed asleep either, so it's not all bad.

Current word count on SH = 10,891 / 6,000. And it's in third person when it should be in first. ::Sigh:: That's a job for another day.