Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist

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Photo of the Week: Fantasy

I took over 100 photos. Seriously. Yeah, there are some similar photos and rubbish ones, but they do total over 100. Yay, photos! *laughs* This means I have a wealth of actual photos (ie. taken with ma camera, rather than phone) to choose from.

Cue huge photo size…


This lady always has a wealth of creativity in her outfits. As such, however, I didn’t see her without a collection of photographers – as we all wanted to catch a photo of her outfit(s). So, this is cropping out the people at the edges. And hence the ivy of Lincoln Castle acting as the perfect background for photography. This is the raw photo otherwise, though I might play around with filters and colour/exposure tweaking once I’ve sorted myself for the week.

In actual fact, this photo doesn’t do her justice. Below the corset, the golden, wire-like dress goes on, balloons out with flowers and butterflies emerging from the ‘metalwork’ (if we are going by the idea of a steampunk fairy), blue gems, light sapphires entwined.

I think fairy is the right word, but that’s probably too mundane a word. She did have giant, hydraulic wings of gold and the same wire-like pattern, but they were being repaired when I took this photo (I did see her wearing them later, though). Just goes to show how diverse even a single costume and a genre can be! Love it!

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Quick Takes Friday About Gaining Dual POV, Generating Poetry and Glueing Rhinestones

Join me and the other Catholic bloggers over at ConversionDiary for our weekly Quick Takes summaries.


Firstly, in case you missed it, yesterday was my 500th post here, so I did some summing up of the past 2.5 years I’ve been working. I can’t really add anything more to that other than the hope that I can up the output and reachability of the blog over the next three years, and that people will continue to join me (and hopefully find me useful/interesting/worthy).


Lincoln tomorrow!!! That is all.

Okay, it’s also kind of funny trying to make my 21st Century gadgets into retrofuturistic objects I can use without heading too far out of character. Also, I currently have a centre parting. The right side of my forehead feels icky. It’s not used to hair.



On Monday, we went to see the animals in the local garden centre, and the weather decided to cheer a bit more than the typical British weather we had creeping in the end of the summer. Yes! *air punch* I can’t say I’ve gone out of my way to leave the house this week – and who can blame me? The outside world is scary – but I have been trying to vary my routine. This week, I’ve mostly been about writing.


Writing: I managed to do some serious paragraph threading-together for chapter one, and the first fifty pages have been my priority for this week’s editing. I haven’t really dealt with OJAP this week – though, after the weekend, I hope to actually work out what I’m doing with chapters 8, 9 and 10 now that Carrie’s not in the Josh’s-bedroom scene, and whether I can manipulate her meeting with Agnetha later in the novel to include certain lines.

I mean, some things are telling about her character, not in terms of the plot, but in terms of what I figure is important for Carrie as a wounded soul, such as, “Yeah, my parents didn’t get along, either.”


I wrote my first poem for months and months. Although I’m not going to share it yet, it’s my typical metaphorical and metaphysical, metadescriptive stuff. Yeah, I made that last word up.


Reading – this sounds like it’s randomly-placed, but it’s connected to the below – Nicole Helm’s TOO CLOSE TO RESIST. I’m about a quarter of the way through, and am really absorbed into the characters. The writing’s not as elaborate as I’m used to – but that comes from moving from fantasy to contemporary, and it’s good practise for me for my contemporary romances.


Annoyingly, I did manage to distract myself and write some new stuff – for UTC, and suddenly I have dual POV when I’d not consciously made the decision to look from Laurie’s POV to begin with. I think this is chapter two or whatever.

After waving Ceriwyn into her own room through a hollow doorway that pointlessly split A block in half, Laurie trudged to his room. September’s full moon was already reflected high in the window he passed, and it was no doubt gone 2am. Laurie always kept Ceri company as the freshers seeped out of the bar – a habit that had started the day she’d got the job in the final term last year. The same time he’d got his job organising formals, posting on the Wellington Facebook page and welcoming foreign students into their rooms at any time in the term.

Thank goodness for his childhood habit of not getting to sleep until the downstairs noises had stopped.

Laurie spun his key in the door, and shouldered his way in. A block was on the older side of Wellington, in its main quad, and thus everything had been made sound-proof and out of pre-WW1 stone.

I like Laurie. He’s a History second-year and friendly despite being sensible/not-crazy. Although he grew up in a moneyed house, he’s learnt to take events beyond their face value, which makes him a useful ally because you know what you’re getting when Laurie turns up.

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500th Post Party

Welcome! Pull up a virtual chair and nab some virtual grub. This is the 500th post on this blog, and, whilst every 100 milestone is worth cheering about, I feel I ought to be particularly proud of getting this far. The blog is a few months shy of her third birthday (January) and though it was a slow start, once I got into the habit of writing every day, we were rolling.

With 426 followers, I’m just over the 20,000 mark in views.

Unlike many of the blogs I follow, I don’t actually get that many funny search results leading the way here. Some are weird, but even those make sense when paired with the types of topics about which I blog.

future dreams - I think this reflects a post I once did about pre-cognizance. Or perhaps one in which I talked about one of my many bizarre dreams. For instance, last night I dreamt about being in a play of the Lord of the Rings and, even playing a hobbit and a minor character, I was under-utilised. Cool special effects, though.

Rion prise - I suspect this is the name of someone. In accord with my blog, Rion refers to my antagonist – no idea what prise is.

pretty red heads in heels – Whilst this search term (3 people searched) would have found a post about singing and red hair extensions, the post certainly had nothing to do with pretty red heads…

a poem with imagery, smilies, personfiction - I think you mean ‘personification’, but, yeah, there are probably a few poems around that utilise those.

pavloc conditioning of your secetary – what? You want to condition your secretary? #misogynist Also: Pavlov.

stanislavski theme cake – I’m not sure how you’d do that. Interesting. If anyone works it out…

why am l fascinated with clocks – Good question. Come back to me when you have an answer, please.

That’s enough. As you can see, the drama and psychology aspects have actually drawn more people to the blog than the writing things. On the other hand, would you like some photographic snapshots of my topics, ideas for those of you wondering if you’ll stay?

(All of these photos have been published on the blog before)








Love's chosen few








Philosophy essay tips


shiny brain

Thanks for celebrating this milestone with me. Come back soon! I have more gifs!


Let’s finish off with some music. I Fight Dragons is a band who use video game noises and references in their music – and is surprisingly catchy. Kaboom:

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About Narrative Focus

My writing has a tendency to go off topic. In fact, this is an extension of my general thought-patterns, I believe. It’s difficult to concentrate on a single topic at the rate that they flit through my head. No wonder my degree is bipartite.

Despite how important it is, only recently did I learn of narrative focus as by its term, and many writers might still not be utilising focus to its full extent.

What is Narrative Focus?

As complicated as the term might seem, narrative focus is simply the way the writer, through use of a character first-person narrator or third-person abstract narrator, guides the reader through a set of events.

Narrative focus might be used to describe that sense of flow between paragraphs – the way the narrator mentions a certain event and holds that event to task for a page or so. ‘Narrative focus’ also applies to the character focus in scenes and the overall flow between chapters and scenes, especially if they are narrated or in the perspective of different characters.

How Can One Hone Narrative Focus?

In short – like everything in writing – practice. And reading. Chances are that most published books have a narrative focused and directed towards the MC(s). In addition, when editing, you might also concentrate on the flow of where not only your sentences are going but also how the paragraphs flow together to tell your story. What’s the most important thing your main character sees in a scene? How do they react?

As fun as squirrels are, there’s no room for them in your manuscript. In the same way that you must weak out the weak verbs and phrases, you must banish the pieces of description or that do not help the story flow from event to event.

What’s Tricky About Narrative Focus?

The problem, especially in first drafts, is that the writer can easily get side-tracked by the generous setting in their head. Each character has an opinion worth listening to, and so a lot of what they see is transferred to the POV character’s narration.

In contrast with headhopping, these slips of focus are viable in writing – but the question is whether they are necessary. Do you want your reader to notice or care that Bill frowns after Mary raises her eyebrows. Mary might indeed see Bill’s reaction, but does that add to the story or is it simply a line that draws the reader out of the scene?
In the end, it’s up the writer.

I asked writers on Twitter which of first or third person they thought created trickier narrative focus, and the general response was third. Understandably, writers of third person have to enter a certain character’s head whilst still keeping their narration fixed on the prose. Writers of first person already tend to have voice, and have the allowance of stepping fully into a characters’ head as they retell the action and reaction. (I write both so I feel qualified to make these observations.)

What might be interesting is the case of narrative focus in accord with second person. Already rather disjointed in general focus, second person requires the reader to be fully transported into the scene.

Narrative focus is not only used for fiction. Many academic papers, in particular precise scientific results with need for replicability, utilise narrative focus.

Thus, focus in prose is important to guide a reader through what needs to be mentioned in a scene and what doesn’t.

Some useful sites: Janice Hardy’s fiction university

Psychology in narrative focus

Wikipedia-like page

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Photo of the Week: Chaz

You must be getting sick of pictures of cats, but I swear I could take pictures of cats all day long – were they actually to stay still enough for me to snap them up.


This dear fella is Chaz, the black-and-white of the pair we’re looking after. You may remember last week’s week’s photo, the grey one – well, aptly smoky in colour. Anyway, Chaz is the gentler miser, and takes a better liking to me than Smokey and his attack. Hence how I managed this almost-sleeping picture. Cute, eh?

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7 Quick Takes About Music and Writing and a Little Bit of Costuming

Regulars know the Friday drill. Join us at ConversionDiary  as we connect about our weeks.

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about dog whispering fails, a hilarious interview moment, and why my radio show will have the best intro music ever


It feels like it’s been a busy week for me – back and forth even when never moving. Now September is here, I’ve started preparing my body, soul and mind for moving back to Reading. Next week will be the start of the physical preparations…packing. I’d love to wait until after Lincoln, but that would give me five days (actually, that’s totally acceptable).


Speaking of which…my costume is almost finished, and I’m getting excited. Here’s a snippet I took to test out the use of petticoats under the floor-length dress. Technically, my petticoats are 50s and half-length, but if I wear them at that very line of my hips, they provide some necessary frame on full-length. Yay for petticoats.

And messing about with photo editor...

And messing about with photo editor…


We’re looking after two cats at the moment, a grey tabby and a black-and-white bundle. Not to mention little neighbourhood Mew (at least, that’s what we’re calling the feisty little girl) who, whilst at odds with the two we’re looking after, is still content to try and steal their food by forcing entry into our house with her cuteness. It’s not my fault I’m a weak soul when it comes to felines!

The three of them are certainly a handful, though! I’d forgotten the thrill of cats, chasing, struggling, looking all big-eyed when they don’t want to eat the food we’ve provided. :P



Not only is this 6-minute (SPG) song awesome, and one that definitely grew on me, and it always From the (am I allowed to say iconic?) album The 2 Cent Show, it’s one of their more acoustic-sounding pieces.


My music… I was supposed to be practising a few of the songs for choir in my privacy today, but I have misplaced—

Literally as I was writing that, I realised that I’ve been looking in the wrong email address for the classical repertoire. Right, I’ll be practising that tomorrow then. The evening is for writing exclusively.

I’ll hopefully keep updated on this one. This is one of the things I’m looking forward to on my return.


On the other hand, I’m definitely getting back into the swing of being a guitarist. Maybe one post I’ll write about the year’s hiatus I took and how it helped me. Shimmer is easier to use than my acoustic, Ruby – electrics have lighter strings, and I’m finding it much easier to barre and run the fret. Certainly, useful for songs like Brass Goggles. Not so useful for today’s work, I’ll Rust With You, but that song’s pretty groovy anyway ;) The most difficult part is probably singing the melody as I find the strumming patterns


Editing. I got through chapter 14, one of the more…difficult chapters of OJAP, mainly because of it’s compounding of all Agnetha’s thought-trails in the novel – also, as I discovered, it is 4000 words of chatter and contemplation, two phone calls, Agnetha lying on the floor crying and some mother-daughter dissonance. Whilst these are totally acceptable themes to have in the novel, I’m worried about this chapter for its interesting-ness. I mean, if I’m getting bored editing… #nothappy appropriate here.


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