Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist


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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.

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 ~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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Just A Little Disclaimer**

Alexandrina Brant:

Reblogging this post from bipolarmuse because it’s so pertinent to modern attitudes on blogging. Many blog posts can be seen to life-reflective when actually they are more theoretical than that, and that’s all right. Sometimes that is what’s needed.

Originally posted on bipolarmuse ♥:

fireyheart

When I began this blog, I was wanting to use it as a journal of sorts where I could just “bleed on paper” and write freely without censoring myself. Over time, people I know on a personal level are also aware of my blog and therefor have an insiders view to by mind. I don’t mind this at all… except… well, don’t make me feel as though I need to filter myself or censor myself. Please. Pretty please.

Understand that when I write, many of my posts began months ago, sometimes even longer… and many times, my writings are not about this very moment I am in… many times, I dive back in time to a certain memory, a certain feeling, a place in my mind… I write out my “ifs, ands, or buts”, I may dwell on something sad, or maybe on something that has you scratching your head…

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Why Don’t We Talk About Intangible ‘Firsts’?

The whole world seems to put a great deal of significance on ‘life events’ and romance checkpoints – first kiss, first time…first marriage (in some cases) – which leaves out a great deal of people, not least asexuals or aromantics.

However, society appears to be missing a certain chunk of what it is to be human – that other side of ‘firsts’ that can’t so easily be tallied down by the amount of winks one gets. The un-countable aspects of kindness, morality, and social equality that occur between more than simply the lovers.

Why don’t we talk about those intangible firsts in life? The ones that matter to people who don’t or can’t experience the same levels of emotional or romantic ‘achievements’ as those who have been on a thousand dates. As a society, we spend far too much time on the physical, but abandon what is more important to the health of our people: the life spirituality (whatever that may mean to you – gods or aether or self-concepts).

These can be anything, from the smallest things to the biggest things. Things that made you feel respected and your unique true self.

The first time someone treated me like an adult individual.

The first time someone validated my opinion, or disagreed with it in a scientific and organised manner.

The first time someone called me beautiful. And meant it.

The first time someone truly grinned at one of my super-eccentric moments.

The first time someone listened to one of my wine-fuelled rants, and didn’t end up with a condescending expression.

We are acting as if these moments mean nothing, when actually they mean a great deal. Who cares about who kissed whom where and with what? The bad and the good of real, everyday life should be considered when we talk about first times – for the sake that they are more inclusive, and for the sake that they mean a deal more.


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Photo of the Week: Asgardian

To borrow a phrase from the stereotypical ‘preppy’ girl, I had a super cute weekend, starting with The New Frontier launch party, where local rock bands came to entertain us. It was a bit loud, but a nice Friday evening to have nevertheless. After that, I alternated between “chillin’” and working, but to some success. Now to stop procrastinating from my psychology stuff, haha…

P1020180This photo features a t-shirt design* of Loki, all Tom Hiddleston-ed, clutching a goblet of ‘Asgardian Absinthe’, which I suspect is probably 100% more potent than Earthly Absinthe. Those Norse gods can stomach it. On a slightly tangential note, there’s something integrally steampunk about Absinthe, isn’t there? In fact, I’m currently reading A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwartz, in which the first chapter features an Absinthe fairy.

*The design is available to buy at all good Ebay and less traditional outlets. Probably. I didn’t my friend where it was from when I was more concerned with the photography.


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Cover Reveal – Fight for Me by KA Last

Yesterday was the official cover reveal for the book FIGHT FOR ME by KA Last, one of the Aussie Owned and Read ladies. I’m happy to share her lovely new cover on my blog today. :)

FightForMe_Cover_Final_LR

Tadaa!

Fight For Me by K.A. Last
(The Tate Chronicles #2)
Publication date: January 17th 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Synopsis:
“How can I fight for you when I don’t know what I’m fighting for?”

When Grace Tate became one of the fallen to protect a vampire, it got her into more trouble than she’d bargained for. She’s angry at Charlotte for hiding the truth, and with Josh living in the city and Seth missing, life is harder than ever.

It’s about to get a lot harder…

Grace doesn’t want to leave Hopetown Valley, but when Josh ignores her calls she decides to go and search for him. She doesn’t expect to run into Seth as well.

When she reaches the city, Grace learns that Charlotte is the most hunted vampire in Wide Island. The city vamps want her blood, and the angels are after her soul. Grace gets caught in the crossfire of a battle she never wanted, but to win one war, she has to fight another.

Torn between the one she gave up everything for, and the one who sacrificed everything for her, Grace has to face Charlotte, and the past, if she wants to fight for her future. But how can she fight for someone who doesn’t want to fight for her?

Every choice Grace makes becomes a battle, and in every battle someone has to die. 

FightFM_Grace_Teaser1_LR
AUTHOR BIO:
KALAstK. A. Last was born in Subiaco, Western Australia, and moved to Sydney with her parents and older brother when she was eight. Artistic and creative by nature, she studied Graphic Design and graduated with an Advanced Diploma. After marrying her high school sweetheart, she concentrated on her career before settling into family life. Blessed with a vivid imagination, she began writing to let off creative steam, and fell in love with it. K. A. Last is currently studying her Bachelor of Arts at Charles Sturt University, with a major in English, and minors in Children’s Literature, Art History, and Visual Culture. She resides in a peaceful, leafy suburb north of Sydney with her husband, their two children, a rabbit named Twitch, and a guinea pig called Squeak.


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Quick Takes About An Away Game of Quidditch, Taize Prayer, and Collating Data

Sometimes, nothing much needs to be said about one’s week, and that’s why conversiondiary’s Quick Takes is so useful.

7_quick_takes_sm1

~1~

Did I mention the Reading Rocs team went to a Quidditch tournament? Oh, I didn’t? Here, have a picture of me Chasing at the Southern Cup (photo by the Southampton team photographer).

~2~

This week has been an unusual one, where anticipation for its end has left me asking why the time is moving so slowly, as opposed to so quickly as per my usual stance. Tonight is the launch party of the university magazine The New Frontier, for whom I do the occasional writing about [creative] writing.

The New Frontier

~3~

What have I even being doing this week, though? Less busy than last week, by dint of not having [immediate] deadlines, and I had the chance to briefly write (see point 7, as per the organised norm), but I’ve also been working (and have finished doing so, thanks to creating an excel sheet. *wipes brow*) on collating the data for my Autumn term mini project, on temporal discounting. I’ve still got a long way to go, though, as I start my report.

~4~

On Wednesday evening, we had a Taize evening of prayer, a very interesting experience, despite that I prefer traditionalism in hymns and praise. Taize prayer involves ecumenical meditative chant versions of hymns, silence, and experiencing God and the Spirit through being contemplative with others. It was very metaphysically cleansing.

A photo I took in the summer of a Mother and Child tapestry in a church

A photo I took in the summer of a Mother and Child tapestry in a church

~5~

Speaking of singing, my two choirs continue. The Duke Ellington jazz never fails to amuse me, but I’ve also had to concentrate on Christmas carols with the Chamber Choir; we’re singing in a lunchtime concert for the students in a couple of weeks, so that’s become my practising priority. I still feel rather out-of-joint for singing carols before December!

~6~

Editing and writing. I’ve done a bit this week. Editing has been somewhat productive; I received mostly positive comments from my CP, which is, in a way, worries me (doesn’t everything! ^_^). For if one cannot improve… Conversely, the main issues I have to deal with are the chronology and direct laying out of Phillip’s active time-stream and Aidelle’s temporally-frozen wasteland, and making the taxicab shelter scene beginning a firmer setting.

I may have to enlist the steampunks with this one.

~7~

Your weekly extract. I wanted to work on scenes I already had the groundwork for. So…I had them talking in the caves, but I had to get them to the caves first. Fun. And I’ve learnt that Laurie suffers from pseudovertigo when faced with heights.

These extracts seem to be getting longer, don’t they? Sorry – I wanted to include a little of Jess and Laurie’s mid-climb conversation, where they discuss, effectively, steampunk, that is, the world if history had been different. As a student myself, I can confirm that our conversations do tend to float from the mundane to the academic regardless of what we are doing.

He said, “One wrong move from a visionary and we’re living in broken world of steam engines and AIs and golems.”

“Anachronisms,” she added.

Laurie shrugged. She had a point. “Maybe not.”

“Pass the rope.”

He did so, and the rope burned through his hands, like a passive fire. She looped it around the rock, tugged it tight, and zoomed down.

He peered over the cliff-face. She was a metre down, dangling, with a wonderful grin over her face.

His mouth twitched and the canvas of flesh ached open in a mimic of her smile.

“Comfortable?”

She shifted in the harness, one hand massaging her back. Quite a funny sight, indeed. “Not quite.”

The cavern yawed out below. He swallowed and blinked away the dizziness, and launched himself off the ledge.

For a second – blackness. Then Laurie prised opened his eyes. The cavern below did not hang in total darkness, but light rolled down the stalactites from the cracks in their path and amber veins in the surrounding columns. Behind him, a vista of afternoon light warmed the edges of his coat.

Beautiful.

 

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