Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist


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Fall 1st Page Critique Blog Hop

(Or ‘autumn’, if we’re going by UK English ;))

The wonderful Michelle Hauck has kindly organised a 1st page critique blog hop, where we get to critique the five blog entries below and ours in the linky on her page. It’s open to all fiction writers, regardless of genre or age category.

Here’s mine, taken from Of Jackets and Phones. Because, why not? Paying forward critiques are awesome. Of course, if you want to critique and you’re not part of the hop, do so anyway. ;) Updated, as of 12/11/14

YA Murder Mystery

A police car blocked the main road into my school’s burnt umber brick and whitewashed doors. I raised an eyebrow at it, nibbled a nail, and tripped out of the school minibus.

For April, the spring air rose way too crisply and held grass thick with swords of dew, and I struggled with the starched collar of my uniform as moisture crept up my arms and into that annoying air pocket between jumper and shirt. I loosened my tie and shook the wrinkles from my skirt.

“Agnetha! Come on.”

I jolted. Whilst I preferred Vera not laughing at me, I winced at her whining tone. Like I cared if we were late. First lesson on Fridays was Spanish, and I was already failing.

I walked to where she stood and rested a hand on one of her wrists with a nod towards the main entrance.

“Look.”

As she froze to follow my now-absent gaze, I wandered ahead and kicked at the flowerbed along the front lawn path. I’d have dived into the mushrooms and roses there instead of bumbling my way to class. I snapped off one pink-faced fool and tossed it into the mud, and then lifted a mushroom, shifting earth and shoe-dirt and wilderness as I tucked the fungus behind my ear.

A hand on my shoulder, and Vera had caught up. She skipped past me, bubbling with incessant words. “What’s up with the police car?”

“You think I know?” I eyed the blue, yellow and white chequers. Police cars had a weird kind of beauty.

An idea of St. Christopher's school exterior; St. Edmund's School, Summertown


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7 Quick Takes about Interviews, Anniversaries, and Arranging Swing

Time for trading the seven things of the week with the bloggers over at ConversionDiary. Join us. :)

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about back to school, veggie choppers, a great DC event, and recording radio spots under dicey circumstances

~1~

It’s weird to read all those posts about people going back to school these past couple of weeks. I know so many US bloggers that it’s easy to forget that British students don’t get back to school until September, and I for one, don’t go back to academic work in Reading until almost October.

~2~

I’ve been moving between houses this week, and my schedule has been a little off kilter, but not so worse for wear. It’s only been a change of walking around and observing the scenery.

~3~

Last Sunday, I went to one of my greatest friend’s parents’ anniversary. It was a nice evening, and good to see my friend again.

AlexB_Arron1

And her boyfriend mucking about…

~4~

As you’ll see by yesterday’s post, Ready. Set. Write! is now over *weeps at sudden lack of schedule* I’m deep in looking for CP and betas from this and the other conventions that have been around…virtually, but I’m aware that my time-freedom is running out*.

~5~

I also had the chance this week to start my Steampunk Spotlight segment about alt-history fantasy authors by interviewing Cindy Spencer Pape. Authors, flock to me! I am very interested in this topic, and I find the best way to learn is through studying others (says the Psychology student). Sadly, I’m still waiting for Cindy’s book to come through the post, but I’m sure it’s awesome. In fact, I’m still waiting for a good few things through the post, so yeah… T_T

~6~

A lot of what I’m doing at the moment is actually behind the scenes work – writing, as you know, is generally an input-output imbalance type of work, as is being a musician and creating costumes, but in addition to that, I’ve been helping out the Reading Uni Swing Dance society, and we’re currently trying to sort the meal for our first big social of the academic year.

~7~

Still editing. I guess I’m making slow progress, but I hit the 55K mark (with the prologue and epilogue letters), so I’m somewhat on track. This week I’ll be polishing chapters 10 and 11 for my primary CP and pushing on through the last five chapters, which, in terms of prose, are a bit messy, despite being more polished, in terms of how much they’ve changed, than the others.

 

*Random psych point: did you know that women are more aware of their bodyclock when exposed to audible ticking? I can’t find the link to the news article at the moment, so you’ll have to find the evidence yerselves ;)


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Ready. Set. Write! Final Update

I can’t believe it’s the last of these already. It’s been two and a half months, but the time has whizzed by – ten/eleven weeks and all. I may not have managed to leave an update every week, but I’m going to miss talking about my writing on Mondays!

Last week’s goals

Edit OJAP. Editing in progress.

Write more of fantasy-horror short story. Working on it. I’ve so far 1800 of about 7000, but I’m not finding much energy to actually write, preferring to edit and all it entails. I’m really into OJAP and getting a more final edit in place.

A word/phrase that sums up what I revised:

Insertion. A lot of this week’s editing has been either directly chapter-based for my CP, or taking new paragraphs of important/interesting information and finding where they ought to fit in amongst the old prose.

Challenges I’ve faced this week:

In parts of my mind, I can hear the voice of doubt arguing that pieces I’m editing will be removed, chopped and wiped out later anyway. The problem with following a Christie-esque reveal of clues (a piece by piece) is that my characters have a lot of exposition through dialogue and I’m so worried that the pacing is off.

Something I love about my WIP:

The converse of the challenges: I love some of the new dialogue I’ve slipped in because it works. I need to organise the Pinterest board because I could grab some cool scenes to display there.

An idea of St. Christopher's school exterior; St. Edmund's School, Summertown

Overall goals:

Complete my short story/novella <Unnamed Steampunk>. Also, come up with a neat name for it. I finished The Incidents at Cavendish Mechanics at 13138 words, but may be turning it into a full novella (30-40K) when I have the chance, since the short story category frustrates me with what I feel is a lack of a full plot and character arc.

Finish reading over the summer at least three of the books I’ve started reading this year. I finished Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men, Soulless, Stardust, The Iron Wyrm Affair, and novella Encante, as well as starting tons more. So, yeah, I count that as complete.

Complete another round of tightening of Fantasy Romance WTCB. Yeah? I did a round of revisions and I’m putting it in cold storage for now. I just…bleh.

Make progress rewriting YA contemporary mystery, Of Jackets and Phones, to make it Beta/CP-ready. Yes. In progress, but making greater leeway than in term-time and weekly sending chapters to one CP. Soon, I intend to have another.

Complete July’s CampNaNo with the first draft of ‘H’ and at least start NA contemporary uni romance, Under the Carrington. Horology’s finished at 73K; UTC has about 5K at the moment, but that’s good after saying I wasn’t going to be writing more of it, and still I do.

So, pretty successful all in all, but with still more to be done. How has your writing summer?


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Photo of the Week: Shielded

So, anyway, this happened:

Drama_AlexandrinaBrant

Look – it’s my name above 2013!

On Friday, it was my school’s senior school prizegiving. I didn’t expect much from the event (knowing my surprisingly low tolerance to envy-producing situations), but going along meant I got to see a few people from the class I hadn’t see since July, so that was one advantage.

The prizegiving always awards a variety of trophies and shields to those who have achieved the most or the best in specific subjects. For instance, the GCSE lot have a prize for the best in show, as such, the highest grades. I expected the Classics’ Cup (being the only full Latin scholar) and the Magazine Prize, but this – the Drama Shield, and something I might once have coveted before I realised coveting made no sense – came as a sudden surprise.

My surprise was from not taking the full A Level Drama, but still being given the shield. However, on reflection, two points came to me. 1) I’d been the only Upper Sixth to participate in the production that year, making my total count of school productions 5 out of my 7 years, not including the two joint school productions I did or the four end-of-year pieces I did for exams and entertainment across the years. 2) One of the girls whose name is on the far right of this picture, and who had been one of my role models when I was in my first year and she in her last, had rarely been allowed to do Drama as a subject like I had, so she had, whilst being academic, turned her dramatic interests to the productions.

So, like her, I have pressed a mark onto the school. Finally.

(I've talked about playing Eliza Doolittle for my GCSE exam)

(I’ve talked briefly about playing Eliza Doolittle for my GCSE exam in this post about Sherlock and plotting)

On a photographic side, this shield was difficult to take, due to its super reflective surface and twenty-one years’ worth of names on miniature shields surrounding that glamorous central boss. In addition, I wanted to capture the blue Greek masks, whilst having some arrangement of the mini shields and that fabulous wood grain. As you can imagine, this was difficult when the reflected my camera. Thus, I’ve gone for a very tilted shot typical of my work, capturing the pieces of the shield I wanted to show. ;)


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The Life of an English Student, Part Three

What are university lectures? In a conversation about my previous two posts, I was asked this, or words to its extent.

I think one doesn’t truly appreciate the simplicity and ‘sameness’ of British university lectures until Sixth Form (or years 12 and 13 – these are ages 16 – 18) or not even then, depending on whether one is exposed to that lecture-style teaching.

I was fortunate to fall into that former group of Sixth Form students, so the change of teaching style did not hit me so much. At my former school, we had Culture and Technology talks, which involved a number of speakers on a number of diverse topics. Being the hungry-for-information writer I am, and craving ideas, I always took notes.

And that skill has proven invaluable across the ‘step’.

On Tuesday, I was, once again, exposed to one of my favourite topics of Psychology: Perception (I have promised to finish the latter half of the post on perception in Lewis Carroll). The lecturer – Holmes! – took a typical lecturer stance of standing at the front of the lecture theatre talking through his PowerPoint and taking us through the beginnings of the biology of encapsulated and unencapsulated cutaneous nerves and their uses.

However, it’s up to us, the students, to annotate the handout frame of his PowerPoint with each of his additional pieces of information provided by his words alone. It’s our option to do so. And our responsibility. This is what makes university tutoring different from the school teaching stuff; far less interaction occurs between teacher and learner, note-taking is essential to catch every point.

Over 200 of us sit in that theatre. Lecturers have no way of communicating with each and every one of us, obviously. When less information is purveyed through the visual, one needs to switch to an auditory, automatic and simultaneous power to take down one’s environment another way. And this also gives each student’s notes a personal touch.

Palmer, the largest theatre. I have been in this theatre once, but my lecturers take place on the other side of the campus. Photo credit to the uni.

Another differences is that, whilst technically compulsory, lecturers can be avoided if one thinks they will add nothing and the knowledge can be supplemented by one’s own work. Technically. We’re not supposed to, but, whilst they register us for our seminars (small talk groups, somewhat like classroom teaching), they do nothing of the sort for those lectures.

And that’s the basics of British lecturers. I can’t say I have any idea how other countries’ lecturers work, but I have given some insight, I hope. I’ve yet to have a tutorial and my first laboratory practical is in the next weeks. British university life for me is a combination of these things.


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Sorry for the Radio Silence

To be honest, I’ve been neglecting my blog a little for the last month. Actually, I have a reason of moving house and not having any internet from the phone-line until now-ish.

But that’s going to change – because I have [bought for and am awaiting arrival] a new, supercharged – ie. completely confusing Windows 8 – laptop, and should be back on schedule by…the end of this week…?

Well, I’m trying! I get half a blog post idea in mind, before something whisks me or my interest away from completing it.

And, actually, I have been purposefully neglecting the blog, too. As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been peer editing short stories, and this has helped me immensely with my own work. As I said in WTCB September, I’m also going into mega-edit-mode with said novel (sixteen out of twenty-seven chapters so far for the first run isn’t doing too badly), and, even this morning, I was pursing my lips over my old laptop and saying to myself ‘that’s a stupid piece of dialogue’. My characters say a lot of contrived things.

Not to mention I’m going to try and get one of my results remarked.

I also had an affair with another blog (!) and guest posted over at Miriam Joy’s about editing and how I’ve come to understand that it’s not so scary.

Here’s an extract:

You can still love your prose whilst looking at it in a critical eye – in fact, I believe this makes for a better editor, as you want to read a story with a curious, reader’s eye. Rewriting can be fun – cringing aside – when you know the story already; it’s about finding a new way to tell something that’s already said once.

Say a character is clumsy. Rewriting plays around with the idea behind the words, making them more realistic; you remove the telling phrases and replace them with an image: she juggled her lunch-box, her apple and her binder, and still managed to drop all three.

Rewriting is the nailpolish on the nails, the twiddly bit of frill on the dress-cuff. I like rewriting because, as writers, we are exploring our prose, as opposed to simply churning it out.

Editing, too, offers a chance to be the most creative and – in my opinion – clever. You don’t have to have any qualifications in English Literature to see that, if a character suffers (explicit or implicit) depression, they’re not going to describe a sunset as ‘sparkling’. Perhaps they might even see the sky’s hues as the colour of their own blood.

clip_image002
Anyway, I look forward to tomorrow’s post, the first of the WTCB September posts, about the geography land in which Phillip and Aidelle reside, The Continent.

 


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Beautiful Blogger Award

(I’ve given up on trying to load my Word today – three crashes is more than enough – so don’t mind any crazy formatting there may be here)

Hullo. How are you world? Great. I’m all right, though I have been down lately, so everything is in monotone colour. I have a post about perception coming, but *shrugs*

*perks up* In the meanwhile, Yawatta Hosby tagged me for the Beautiful Blogger Award. Thanks, Yawatta! Here’re the guidelines:

1.  Copy and paste the Beautiful Blogger Award in your post

2.  Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog

3.  Tell 7 things about yourself

4.  Nominate 7 other bloggers and leave them a comment on their blog (or pingback or whatever) letting them know

fadff-beautiful-blogger-award1
1. I have little-to-no idea what actually started my email: celestal_Fleur, especially seeing as ‘fleur’ is French and ‘celestal’ is the incorrect spelling of the English ‘celestial’. However, on a literate note, my newest Twitter handle (updated early 2013) is the Latin for ‘space flower’. Fitting for a Trekkie with a floral middle name.

2. I was a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure hog when I was younger. My dad gave me one for which I was probably too young, but, since I had been interested in his World of Warcraft games from a young age, I don’t think the monsters-and-murder, dungeons-and-dragons content really affected me. All I remember is that the tale was set in catacombs, I was trying to find five precious-jewel ornaments and I died many times by finding all five letters of D-E-A-T-H scattered throughout the maze. A giant squid also occurred.
Nowadays, I still add to the occasional add-venture on the occasional writing site.

The Ice King from Adventure Time. Silly humour, but brilliant. By meldilove on DeviantART

The Ice King from Adventure Time. Silly humour, but brilliant. By meldilove on DeviantART

3. For all I’m mature and sensible (!), I have a weakness for silly humour. I may not enjoy slapstick or gross humour, but bizarre and outlandish humour makes me laugh, perhaps the reason I enjoy The Simpsons so much. As I write this, I’m listening to the ‘Knights of the Round Table’ song from the Spamalot musical (I’ve already seen it twice in theatre!) to cheer myself up. The Lady of the Lake is an amazing soprano part to play!

 4. I also have a not-so-closeted weakness for music with a head-banging bassline.

AlexandrinaSims_AlexB5. Like any obsessive Sims2 player, I have my own Sim. She’s currently an elder, a celebrity chef (fulfilling her lifetime, platinum want) with three children (two girls and a boy <3), nine grandchildren, a brother and two nephews and a[n adopted] niece.

6. I get my A Level results tomorrow at 8 am. ‘Nuff said.

7. I always have ideas for these tell-us-about-yourself blog awards way before I require them – and then I forget by the time I need them! I am a slave to sod’s law.

Tagging:

1. Lillian M(M!) Woodall – have your first blog award, dear!

2. Jae Dansie – for being awesome.

3. Mystic Cooking – also awesome, but haven’t written much lately. C’mon, ladies!

4. The Misfortune of Knowing - for such insightful posts on books, the law, and motherhood.

5. The Loony Teen Writer - wonderful teen writer and blogger.

6. KA Last – for all her help during Pitcharama.

7. Descent into Slushland – everything needed to be known about writing

I need to expand my blogging circle!

 

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