Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist


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Nomad – The Album

Just wanted to celebrate the post-apocalyptic steampunk band Abney Park (though they are American, they got their name from the real Abney Park, located in *ahem* England), whose newest album Nomad comes out today. You’ll like Abney Park if you like slightly heavier steampunk music, as well as less traditional instruments (on Tribal Nomad, we hear/see Captain Robert’s first bouzouki solo) and an overarching storyline behind great music. In Nomad, Captain Robert and his crew of the Airship Ophelia are well and truly grounded in the apocalypse, and must find a way through the dark and this deadly new world.

What I also love about Abney Park is how varied their music style is. You may remember that a previous Friday I linked another song from Nomad, Two Elixirs, inspired by the tale of Jekyll and Hyde, which is more electro swing than anything (as is The Casbah from the little I’ve heard of the song). Tribal Nomad is a lot more traditional apocalypsica, but songs like The Anthropophagists’ Club (from their previous album) showcase their musicality. And witty lyrics! If you don’t know what an anthropophagist’s favourite meal is…

Anyway, the official video for the song Tribal Nomad:

It’s pretty nifty a video as well as an awesome song :)

You can buy Nomad on Abney Park’s website, or just go to support the band and enjoy their music.


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Wedded bliss plus World Gifts

Alexandrina Brant:

CAFOD supporting communities across the world. :)

Originally posted on CAFOD blog:

By Vanessa Chang who works on creating gifts for the annual CAFOD World Gifts catalogue.  

Felicity and Joe Isaacs on their wedding day. The couple raised money for CAFOD World Gifts and bought two Medical Outreach Teams.

Felicity and Joe Isaacs bought World Gifts to celebrate their wedding (Photographer – Emma Boileau)

When planning your special day there are often lots of things you need to organise: a venue, food, invitations, music, THE dress… the list goes on. One couple from Lancashire however, added another more unusual item to their wedding to-do list – a CAFOD World Gifts Medical outreach team.

This summer, Felicity and Joe Isaacs invited guests to donate to World Gifts during their wedding reception. Generous guests raised over £500 which the happy couple put towards two medical outreach teams, funding medical professionals to bring essential healthcare to remote communities.

Felicity, a maths teacher at Cardinal Newman College, Preston, said:

“CAFOD is a charity we’ve been involved with for some time. I run a CAFOD Group at college which…

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In Which I Wear a Black Wig and Film on the Coast

So… *twiddles thumbs* it’s been a while since I’ve vlogged, not for want of doing so, but because I lack time in masses. I suppose it’s appropriate that almost a month has past since my trip up to the coast. But I took time to edit and think, and this was the result.

Anyway, I took the scant videos I made of my trip to the Whitby coast for the Goth Weekend (with steampunks :P) and tried cobbling them together into some sort of travel diary…ish. It doesn’t help that I forgot day 1. I hope you enjoy the vlog as much as I enjoyed doing it and making it…even if the beginning is full of cheese. I should stop using my webcam to record vlogs…

The memories! xD

You must also love my terrible camera handling! :P I apologise for that. If I get any footage from Saturdays Steampunks in Space, I’ll try and be more level-camera-ed. I hope to get one about my Zara costume up soon, but that’s not looking likely with my assignment deadlines looming.

Alex out :) x


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My life revolves around backseat driving and half-hearted love letters

And that would be the start of a poem a lot better than the one you’re about to read, but the summer saps my creativity and soul, and I end up writing vapid nonsense to prompts for which I ought to be wittier. It’s kind of creepy.

Last month, The Scribblers creative writing society launched their first book of creative writing, produced in printed, ring-bound form (like any university collection) by the president and English Lit student, based on the prompt The Lake. I thought I’d shared my poem in the collection here.

Into the Lake

Churlish white-grey, wave upon wave

Above her crest and contorted shape

Laps away the life she knew,

Replaced with a deathly show.

Organs melt and boil and bubble, though

Pressure first swells her ears,

Then the petty nonsense gurgles;

Oxygen is a forgotten resource.

The mind leaves little but an inventory

Of life as she drops from sanity.

A single moss-plant by her right,

That arm in green might catch her side,

Yet, they meet and dance and part as if

The weed never existed. Refraction.

Ever-intrepid hands climb the non-existent rope,

Where safety slips, threatens, teases,

And as she downward dips, questions

Of morality flit and forget to float –

Once, perhaps, it bailed her out;

Broken, now it only descends with her,

Descends, transcends and bends the ether

‘Tween consciousness and nullity;

Turn the inner voice away, and

The outer streams far more sense to the deep.

Sight has nothing more than glass

To offer the erstwhile traveller. Glass,

The ever-distorting foe –

Who turns the knife into a rose,

The fist into a palm.

Never mind the hue of blood under her nails –

The water dyes every inch

Blue, like the plant-unlife is blue, unwanted.

One bubble, maybe two, as passing payment,

Then – nothing, and silence, sweet head, weeps.

Maudlin and black now the waves lap;

Her soul rises higher – her body fades back

To depths and the gloom beyond eyelids closed,

In the pit, that lake, morose.

Lake2


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Photo of the Week: Buttons

The buttons on one of my new outfits. Pretty, no?

ALexB_BlueButtons

I had so much trouble getting this photo because the dress was hanging at just the wrong angle and height for my hands. Standing, I was too high and had to crouch; sitting and kneeling, I was not level. Eventually, I believe my arm got tired… And then the shadows. Dear goodness! Monday is not a good winter day for photography!


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Beautiful Books: Writing UTC

It’s time for me to report how writing is going via the Beautiful Books link-up, hosted by Cait and Sky. Remember, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, so this is totally from the perspective of writing a novel as a slow, steady (and edited! :P) process – and also because of my studies, I have barely time to write 1K a week. You can see my thoughts on plotting Under the Carrington in last month’s Beautiful Books.

Be honest: how is your writing going?

Not well. I’ve been so bogged down with academic work that I barely have time to think about my writing, let alone access the ports that allow freely done prose. Easy to see why I never do November WriMo.

What’s your first sentence/paragraph?

The world hazed, hummed and wobbled, and Jess let out a giggle.

“What is this? I love it. More!”

“What? No. God, you’re hardly good taste.”

A shape swerved into the girl behind the bar. She had blue hair and, as Jess had come to learn during the night, a dry wit.

The girl rolled her eyes. “It’s a Snakebite. Blackcurrant syrup, cider, beer.”

“Simple,” Jess found herself chirruping. Her hand had gestured into the air before she’d really thought about doing so.

Something endearing came from being a stranger amongst the many faces of people who’d been here for years; Jess wore the term ‘Fresher’ like she wore the Wellington Freshers royal blue t-shirt.

Do you have a book cover, and/or pictures that reflect your book?

I have a concept for a book cover, which is based on one of my favourite/pivotal scenes in the book – plus, it’s got that cutesy stereotype of the couple almost kissing on the front cover. Yeah, that cutesy appeal. Here are some other pictures that provide visual inspiration:

Carrington building hypothetically

Carrington building hypothetically

Lincoln College [Oxford] could look like Wellington College

What is it with yellow umbrellas? I ought change mine…

 

Do you have pictures of each of your characters? If not, describe them for us! (Be as descriptive as you can.)

Thinking about it, Laurie kind of looks like Darren Criss. Yeahhh, Blaine Potter ;)

I’m not sure what Jess looks like. I don’t really like writing brown-haired people because I have trouble varying my descriptions. Aidelle had the archetypal chocolate or mud brown, which is a lot richer than any of the other brown-haired people I’ve written. I may sound silly that I don’t have much more than brown-hair-blue-grey-eyes, but I don’t think I need to. Jess isn’t exceptionally pretty, nor is she exceptionally not-pretty. This is one Google-image that could represent her.

And, before you crow, whilst the Main Characters are white, there are a few People of Colour amongst their friends. For starters, I have a girl of Indian descent who is a lesbian. That counts for two, right? (I’m kidding!)

What scene are you most excited to write?

You know what? I really just can’t wait ’til the Christmas holidays when I can just write without worrying that I’m causing myself to fail by doing my craft. I’m staying with my corridor for an extra week after lectures finish (for starters – I’m paying for that bedroom; I might as well make use of the space), so I’ll hopefully be able to crank out some serious K. I’ve got the bare bones of a few crucial scenes down, so I’m excited to be filling them out, particularly ones like Laurie being all corridor-rep and arrogant and Jess sneaking out to meet one of her art society friends.

Share a snippet or a scene that you really enjoyed writing.

I do this weekly in my weekly summary with other Catholics, so I don’t want to repeat myself, but I’ll add a bit more of the caving scene, where Jess and Laurie discuss alternate history as they scale into a cave somewhere in Cheddar (probably. Details to come when I can be bothered to research. And not cheese, you non-UK people, Cheddar, the town in Somerset, England.) This is also one of the pivotal scenes in the non-romance side of the plot, as Laurie is about to make a suggestion that his mother help Jess’ father with his failing business.

Below, Jess fumbled about, her coat ruffling in the cavern’s stillness. The cold stench of green mould and saturated porous faces wafted over him, dousing what remained of his initial fear. 

“Do you think we would still exist, if the world had ended up different, like a parallel-universe thing?” she asked.

Her torch clicked and its beam illustrated their dangle to the cavern floor. One clue-pack was concealed in the midst of a clump of rocks, visible only from the top.

Laurie concentrated on the solid ground, and began threading his ropes through thumb-and-finger grip.

“Yeah,” he said. “I believe we will always have come into being because of fate and social history. The actions change, but the figures remain the same.”

Her boots clinked onto the rocky ground.

“How philosophical. What about genealogy?”

Of course. He was assuming the worldview of the successful. But Jess’ father might be out of business – further – in an ulterior universe with no history.

Now that you’re writing, have any of the plot details, or the process itself, turned out different from what you planned or imagined?

The process is a lot slower than I thought it would be, but then I’m not one of those who plans step-by-step. I have an outline and I know where I’m going, but restrictions mean that I can’t write as fluidly as I’d like. Most of the plot is as much as I intend, though I’m still fumbling through who emotes what and when, and where they kiss.

Is there a character or aspect of your plot that’s difficult to write?

Yes. Similar to what I said above. My massive issue (apart from not having the time to write) is getting things to fall in the right place. Because the story is set over the course of an academic year, eight months or so, I have to make sure the chemistry has the right patterns at the right places to make the story realistic and not rushed.

What’s your favourite aspect of this novel so far? Favourite character?

I’m probably gonna hate this later, but one of my favourite aspects of the novel so far is its contemporariness – how usual it feels, and the fact I don’t have to ponder whether a certain act would be something the character would do in reflection of their society. Much.

Have you drawn off of any life experiences or people you know to create your novel and your characters?

Yes, definitely. For starters, seeing as I came up with the concept at the end of my first year of uni, which Jess is starting. I just wanted a New Adult piece that reflects life and the more humble versions of what being in uni is like, rather than the glamorised, sex-booze-money appearance a lot of NA emits. Of course, I couldn’t help a lot of the side-characters having traits like those of people I know, but I’m waiting for the second draft to weed those out. I just want to get this first draft done.

Other life experiences referenced include being an active member of several odd societies, both creative and sporty; trekking to campus and back every day; and stumbling, exhausted, back to my room after a ridiculous night out. Sadly, I never had a roommate like Jess and Meg.

Do you have a playlist or certain song for your novel and/or characters?

I don’t really write to music, especially modern music, so no. Playlists tend to spawn during editing or when I finished the book, because then I start seeing the themes and the patterns.

Let’s have some fun for a moment: imagine you are somehow transported into your book’s world. Which character are you most likely to be found hanging out with?

Despite how uptight Laurie is, he’s actually a pretty relaxed guy when he wants to be – and he has the right amount of sensibility and sprightliness for me to get on with. (It’s always the guys, isn’t it? IRL, I think I prefer the company of men. Oh, shush, you know I didn’t mean that like that.)

I think Ceri and Meg would drive me mad with their constant extroverted energy, and I’d be massively intimidated by Nicola and Russell, who are both at-least-semi-successful graduates. I think I’d probably get along with Jess, to be honest, but we have one of those slow-to-generate friendships because we both wouldn’t have the courage to talk to one another for ages.

How do you keep yourself motivated to finish your daily wordcount? (Pinterest? Internet breaks? Chocolate?)

Bribery with steampunk music. (Well, that’s what I’ve been doing with my essays.) Aside from the fact that I don’t have a daily wordcount, self-worth and self-yay keep me going.

What is your favourite writing quote or piece of writing advice?

A lot of people say that going through the first draft and not editing at all is the best way to progress through, but I can’t do that. I do automatically edit as I type – I leave things in colour as I move on, even when I’m zooming through a first draft.

My favourite piece of writing advice? Relax. Take writing as it comes and not force it. It’s important for writers to work at their own pace sometimes, but it’s also important for books to be written at their own paces.

How does this book make you feel so far? Are you laughing? Crying? Frustrated?

At the moment, I guess frustrated is the word. I just end up starting a piece but not having the time to add more to it. I keep getting pulled off track, and despite having a few chapters that are actually chapters, I’ve not been sticking to the chronology. In terms of the plot, that is pretty frustrating, too. Whilst Laurie’s strict adherence to his self-professed rules and regulations irritates me as a reader, I also have moments where I glare at Jess for being too ostensive and eccentric. She has moments of calm, but she also has frustrating moments where she feels entitled to a world she hasn’t yet worked for.

AlexB_Quove

Sad to think I took this photo almost a year ago.

 

That’s it for now. :) Hope you enjoyed this month’s detailing of what I’ve been working on. Do check out the rest of the link-up. I, sadly, have very little time to, but I know it’s been packed with NaNo-ers and their projects.


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7 Quick Takes about Singing, Writing Essays on Development, and Winding Down

Compared to last week, this week was particularly uneventful…or the thoughts have mostly left my head. I haven’t been out and there haven’t been events, and the week has sped past, definitely. Join us in our quick takes at ConversionDiary, or this week at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7_quick_takes_sm1

 ~1~

The chill weather is getting to me a bit, as are those dark mornings. Thank goodness for Toffee Nut Lattes! It’s some relief that I’ve only got a few weeks of work left, but, simultaneously, I can foresee everything I will have to do.

~2~

Did you know that children when learning vocabulary have a noun bias? Makes sense, really, since they tend to associate actions with verbs, but also must first have the knowledge of the nouns associated with the actions. They also may learn through dumb associational mechanisms or through social-pragmatic cues. The jury is still out on whether language learning is domain-specific or domain-general – or whether one then the other as a child ages.

And that was my Psych essay for this term summed up.

~3~

I managed to stay on campus a complete day (10 – 4.30) on Tuesday, something which I rarely do because I enjoy the secure base of my room, which puts my day on reset.

~4~

My musical confidence is growing, step by step. We’ve been told that we might be signing carols as part of the background to a Winter Wonderland that is being set up on the first few days of December in the main campus. It’s a little strange experience for me to be offered so many opportunities to sing/perform, even as part of a choir, but I’m going to take it in my stride. Plus – skating rink. :)

~5~

I managed to get some editing of chapter one of WTCB done, and I’ve been trying to fix the weird dip in tension on the first page of OJAP.

~6~

Writing has been…somewhat productive, as I dodge the essays and reports. A thousand words for a work-in-progress is quite nifty – and this one looks at the change in the literal way Laurie is beginning to see Jess after The Rain Scene. Hopefully, I will get this month’s Beautiful Books post up soon.

~7~

“Don’t worry about me.” She shot him a toothy smile.

Jess. Oh, he did, but not in that dread-rolling way he had before. As he walked, and the light bounced off the shades and splashes and varied pigments of her hair, he watched the way she moved so effortlessly through the campus. He wanted to fetch her a drink, to curl up on his bed with her, to ask about her day. And listen and actually give a care.

 

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