Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist


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An Essay on Cognitive Forgetting

Something a little different on the blog for you to contemplate over. I wrote this assignment essay a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to share it, with the very minimal editing since I handed it in, as part of my Revision Pitstop section of this blog. It’s about memory and cognition – more importantly, about why we forget.

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Forgetting is a cognitive term to describe when information once received and encoded via stimuli is no longer able to be retrieved. Whilst the term applies to long-term memory (which is said to have an unlimited capacity and for accessibility rather than availability to be the problem when forgetting), forgetting can occur at any stage of memory encoding and information items can be lost or altered throughout.

As cited in Rieber and Salzinger (1998), three main theories of forgetting have been proposed: interference, cue dependence and consolidation. This essay will look at the support for and arguments against interference theory and briefly contrast it with consolidation theory to see whether forgetting can be explained this way.

Said to have been first studied by psychologist John A. Bergström in 1892, ‘interference theory’ of ‘unlearning’ argues that we forget due to the interaction between new and past information in the long-term memory (LTM) system, causing a negative transfer effect of either the retrieval of past memories or in regaining new memories.

There are two types of forgetting according to interference theory: proactive and retroactive (Steinman et al, 1965). Proactive interference states that forgetting is due to prior information causing a disruption in the encoding of new information in the LTM. Retroactive interference is when new information inhibits the recall of old information, for instance, learning one’s new phone number can lead to forgetting one’s old one. Underwood (1969) described retroactive interference as being due to decreased recall in the “primary studied functions” (ie. information first encoded) due to the “learning and recall of succeeding functions” (later encoded information).

There is much support for the theory of interference. Jacoby, Debner and Hay (2001) looked at why interference might occur. Their studies into word pair association suggested that the ‘correct’ new-information response in a dual-task trial is too weak or the ‘incorrect’ past-information response is too strong, causing participants to favour the prior information. With additional simultaneous information load, people tend to forget more. Regardless of an individual’s ability to remember, doing multiple tasks always provides even a little interference when trying to remember. In this way, interference theory shows that most individuals have the same process of forgetting, and the theory’s universality makes sense from observation.

Isurin and McDonald (2001) said that the act of forgetting is stronger when new information resembles the old. They studied cross-interference in the acquisition of a new language. This suggests that when pieces of new information are encoded into our LTM they ‘block out’ or take the place of the old information automatically, therefore supporting retroactive interference theory. On the other hand, their research might support other theories of forgetting where the type of stimulus stored is more important than the interaction between information, especially since LTM has unlimited capacity. Conversely, interference theory makes assumptions that weaken it.

One such assumption (Rieber and Salzinger, 1998) is that all memory is stored in LTM intact – the failure to remember occurs in retrieval alone – whereas the information itself might be faulty or mistaken. Interference theory ignores this. Interference theory has no support from indirect memory research – most research has been looking for interference specifically, and therefore it cannot be argued that interference theory covers all aspects of the way one forgets.

It may not be possible to disprove, as well as prove, this interference theory. One can produce evidence for not being able to remember when new information is interfering with the old (ie. retroactive forgetting), but how can one prove that the opposite, that memories are not interfered, is true? For instance, Gleitman, Steinman, and Bernheim (1965) pointed out that ‘extraexperimental’ confounds could affect the results of interference theory studies, but these are difficult to experimentally prove – so it is difficult to rule out the possibility of forgetting from other theories as well as interference, even when there is no substantial research directly against interference in memory.

The memory consolidation processA different theory might better explain the process of forgetting. For instance, a further theory, consolidation theory, suggests that, rather than being a one-block process that memories are encoded and degrade, forgetting is a stage process where memories are encoded through long-term repetition. Thus, forgetting happens quicker immediately after learning. Unlike interference theory, this takes into account external factors that might affect memory – like time. Interference theory maintains that forgetting comes from the mind alone, rather than from the conditions of when information was acquired. It has also been argued (Underwood and Postman, 1973) that inference theory is too hierarchical, too focused on the single route of memory processing when explaining the encoding of new memories; consolidation theory is more flexible and suggests that some memories can exist independently of the hippocampal system in LTM, and is supported by neurobiology evidence of protein synthesis and synapsis strengthening (Gold, 2007).

Nevertheless, interference theory is also supported by studies showing that the more powerful (clearer in the mind) response to a stimulus interferes with a weaker response, regardless of which is more contextually appropriate. Anderson (2001) argued that memory selection is required during retrieval, and that forgetting is an active process. Research is still being conducted today, showing that the initial structure of the theory has been consistent over time and scientific development.

In conclusion, interference theory seems to explain reasonably well how we forget. Although the evidence for other theories, such as consolidation theory, is extensive, interference theory itself does well to acknowledge the human perspective of being constantly surrounded by new stimuli: very few people can remember the exact details of scenes in their memories because we are forever encoding new details from external stimuli. On the other hand, its narrow view of memory information being replaceable chunks fails to account for different types of memory and stimuli, and, thus, interference theory may better explain the forgetting process when used in combination with other theories of memory and forgetting.

 

References

Anderson, M.C. (2001). Active forgetting: Evidence for functional inhibition as a source of memory failure. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma, 4, 185–210

Gleitman, H., Steinman, F., & Bernheim, J. W. (1965). Effect of prior interference upon retention of fixed-interval performance in rats. Journal of comparative and physiological psychology, 59(3), 461.

Gold, P.E. (2007). Protein synthesis inhibition and memory: formation vs amnesia. Neurobiology: Learning and Memory. 89(3): 201–211.

Isurin, L. (2004) Cross Linguistic Transfer in Word Order. Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism. Cohen, J. (ed) & McAlister, K.T. (ed)

Jacoby, L.J., Hay, J.F & Debner, J.A. (2001). Proactive Interference, Accessibility Bias and Process Dissociations. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, Vol 27(3), 686-700

Rieber, R.W. & Salzinger, K. (1998). Psychology: Theoretical-historical perspectives (2nd ed.), 17-75. American Psychological Association, xvii.

Underwood, B.J. (1969). Attributes of memory. Psychological Review, Vol 76(6), 559-573

Underwood, B.J. & Postman, L. (1973). Critical issues in interference theory. Memory and Cognition, Vol 1, 19-40


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Notebook Sisters Blog Hop – For The Writers

*I know this looks like a long post, but stay with me. I really enjoyed writing about my writing and there’s some exclusive stuff from first drafts and new projects, so [well of course I think so] it’s worth a read. I’ll put the questions in blue, so you can skip around, if you like. And pictures – I’ll keep you entertained with pictures ;)* 

Over at the Notebook Sisters blog, they’re holding a linkup and giveaway, so check it out :) In the meanwhile, I felt it a great way to summarise my reading and writing over the course of this year – and you know I love to talk about what I’ve been up to ;) Without further ado:

Wow, looking back, I have to see it has actually been a long year. Short in how it has passed, and how much I have moved, but long in what I have done. Seriously, I started university and that’s fantastic/scary. However, this is about my writing (the reading bloghop is here).  Surprisingly – if you consider that I’ve been editing the most/more than ever this year – I have much to say.

How many books/stories did you write this year? (Estimate your overall wordcount for us!)

TRIANGLE, finished March ’13. Contemporary romance standalone, first draft, at 105,000 – wrote the last 45,000 of it this year. *That’s almost an entire novel :O*

DON’T MESS WITH TIME (DMWT), July ’13. NA sequel fantasy/sci-fi/genre unclassified, first/second draft. Still typing it up, but current wordcount is about 40-thousand, so I believe I completed NaNo, woop! Judging by my estimates, I may still have another 20,000 to type up!

REVELATION, July/August ’13. NA dystopian short, about 5,000. Published Dec ‘13/Jan ‘14.

LYSANDER YAKINOS, Sept ’13, first draft, currently at 15,000. M/M mature Romance novella.

ESSAYS, TURQUOISE WINGS AND ME, Oct/Nov ’13. NA urban fantasy short. 7,500. Edited, currently out with beta.

Across the year, I also started The Continental Almanac supplemental; and various commentaries and essays like the ‘literary cross-examinations of the Costello brothers’. Varying amounts, non-fiction/fiction supplemental, second draft and in-progress addition as the novels progress.

Overall wordcount about 133,000 (rounding up).

Which was your favourite to write?

The chapters, first draft, on a writing site

The later chapters, first draft, on a writing site

TRIANGLE always has a place in my heart, being the longest of my books and my only successful co-authored book (I say that, but those last words logged were all me when my co-author had to pull out). I think it’s mostly because of the contemporary romance between the characters. It’s so hard to explain, but I love their love. It’s also a book that touches on family and religion, so, whilst it’s going to be a pain to eventually edit, I like to think that the final product will be more than simply a romance in three parts from three pairs of eyes.

Which was the hardest to write?

ESSAYS, TURQUOISE WINGS AND ME was a challenge – even beyond choosing its title! This was probably because of its rather abstract genre – I guess ‘NA urban fantasy’ – with a university student finding out that fairies exist, just not in the way we expect of them. I was working to a contest prompt, so my wordcount was perhaps stifled, though I found it just right for the idea. I found it difficult to fully encompass all the ideas in the general short story, though I suppose this is part of the writing discipline to hold back some ideas.

DON’T MESS WITH TIME, in a way, troubled me, as it is completely different (apart from characters and ideas) than its predecessor, and I have to find a way to edit in all the clever themes and metaphors that make WHEN THE CLOCK BROKE my favourite piece of writing.

Tell us about your favourite Male Character you wrote this year!

Lucas Gorge from Triangle. I have so many interpretations of him on my computer. I made this my background one day, and must have deleted the source photo, for I have no idea where I found it now. He is my character crush. *drools* In addition, I love his quirks, which are also his faults. I can’t say much without including spoilers, but he is, at first, very cold and slowly comes to appreciate the help that Andrea gives him.

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And how about your favourite Female Character?

lucy_hale_wallpaper_6Reading back through DMWT for quotes, I realise how much I love MC Zara still. In the first book, she was a SC and younger; here, she even recognises that she was weaker as a person, more “I hate the world” teenagery. She’s about twenty in DMWT, so she’s changed a lot. What I love about how I have written her is her kick-a$$ attitude that doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She knows she’s wrong at times, but still goes with her guns. She could be called ‘selfish’ and I think she’d take that.

(I’ve just realised – the first draft of Lysander has practically or literally no female characters!)

Can you introduce us to some awesome sidekick(s)?

Léa Gorge, whilst not being a sidekick in the sense of superhero-y type attack the word conjures in me, is a companion and non-POV character I’ve come to enjoy seeing alive. Her sense of breezy humour, reminding me of her sundresses, means she lights up a scene. She obviously adores and wants to protect her ‘baby’ brother, but sometimes she has to turn to her own needs. Behind her jovial exterior, it’s clear that she herself wants romance to succeed.

In addition, I learnt a lot about her in her short screen time. I love that, being fluent in French, her job is as a translator of books. Although she’s freelance, I can see her working as the international rep. of a literary agency. Also, she makes coffee weirdly. ^.^

Any romances in your writing? Which couple didn’t go together as expected?

My writing always has at least some romance in it. I can’t help it! I’ve always been enamoured by Lucas and Andrea from TRIANGLE, so that one goes without saying. My betas gave me a lot of support for that plot. Team Landrea all the way!

I set out at the beginning of DMWT with the aim of making a strong romantic subplot between MC Zara and SC Max (considering that its predecessor I still categorise as Fantasy Romance). However things didn’t quite go to plan, because 1) Max didn’t turn out to mesh at first meeting with Zara as I expected he would. He laughs at her ideas, and even in the last book treats her as an inferior.

2) Max had a crush on the antagonist, Zoey

3) Zara found herself more attracted to another, even though we all knew it would end badly. So, the romance is there, even if not the ‘right’ one – I’m still aiming for the couple to find their way to each other in the final finale.

I also keep coming back to that M/M romance of a couple of characters from the Time, Stopped trilogy (the story, minus its above title, of which I’m keeping under lock-and-key for now ;) ), so I guess I’m not done writing their past vignettes and tales. I don’t know what it is, but I find gay snogging so easy to write. Seriously.

What’s your favourite Pinterest Board for one of your books? Can we see some pics for the book they inspire?

I don’t have Pinterest (can’t afford to lose myself in another online site) so I’m not sure how to answer this. However, that’s not to say that I don’t have a few folders on my laptop. Although, WTCB doesn’t count as it’s in editing not writing, I even have an entire family tree for the main characters and have been finding faces for them. Looking through, I probably should have a general bookish Pinterest, even for just posting romance pics like Anna and Bates as Ale and Chris (A Game of Murder).

AnnaandBatesGoogle

For this year, my big project was the first draft of DMWT, so I was kept an eye out for neovictorian and steampunk-style machines (I had to devise a bunch of new machinery, so I needed all the inspiration I could get) and décor. For instance, this record player one of the guys down my corridor has, and this first model T Ford car.

RecordPlayer_AlexB

FordT_AlexB

What challenges did you compete in this year? (NaNos? Personal goals? Challenges run by other blogs?) And how did you go?

CampNaNoWriMo! I was in Uganda for July, so I took that opportunity of no internet, phone or anything else access to speed handwrite my ideas. I took my notepad everywhere, and, as a result, a full of the pages are almost orange with the dust. I’ve not yet typed up the entire thing, so I don’t know if I passed the challenge, but it felt as if I completed it. I did, after all, fulfil my personal challenge of finishing the first draft of DMWT in a month.

In addition, I did set myself the challenge of finishing TRIANGLE before I turned eighteen, just so I could say I’d written an adult romance without being an adult myself. Foolishly – at least, I’ll lament when I have to edit! – I also set and completed the challenge of getting the wordcount over 100K. At 105,000, I succeeded.

Show us the full cast in pictures from one of your books.

I do this a lot already. Only in November did I talk about my ideas for the main cast of DMWT – the entire cast is too diverse to include, and even the speaking cast is extensive. The three shorter stories are hardly worth listing the characters of. REVELATION has one MC and the people she meets before and after she thinks she’ll die; and Turquoise Wings has four characters in its entirety. TRIANGLE, however, has enough to make a proper list. I’ve not, however, cast those characters who appear in less than three scenes or who don’t have substantial speaking parts (for instance, the vicar with whom Andrea has a conversation in the first chapter never turns up again, though he has history with her family).

I’m going to use the Sims2 versions of Lucas and Andrea because I love how they look so much. :P

Lucas Gorge and Andrea Ford

LucasAndreahappy

Although he wouldn’t call himself a player, Lucas moves through relationships quickly. No woman has been right for him. He can only guess that it’s due to his religiosity or his perpetual neatness. Andrea gave up on men when she gave up on her art degree. That was no Artemis pact; she simply failed to find the men in her life attractive. But her thirtieth birthday creeps ever along with the thought she’s wasting her life alone. It’s worth newspaper dating, yes? What Andrea didn’t bargain for, though, was the guy who blanked her call turning up as the new Head of Religious Studies at her alma mater.

*I have so many different hooks for this story; that one entertained me a lot as I wrote it.*

Keith Malone

Yes, I realise it’s Mika…but I’m having trouble really envisioning the best person who looks like Keith

Working as a bank teller with his best friend Harry wasn’t exactly where Keith has envisioned his life, especially after the love of his life threw her ring in the rubbish. However, a chance encounter leads his vulnerable heart back to life. He may not be able to forgive Andrea yet, but Keith ought to open his eyes – his perfect match might be where he least expects her.

Léa Gorge

IMAG6238

Léa journeyed to Lansdale at her brother’s request, and, somehow, never left. The power of being freelance! When Lucas stranded her – it’s a three-hour drive back to their family home, after all – Léa took up residence in Keith’s recently-vacated spare room. The one problem? His grudge against Lucas is a grudge against her, too.

Christine Taunton

Keith is dull, and, whilst Christine isn’t exactly on a mission to let the whole of Lansdale know that, she’s determined to stop her mother’s Alzheimer’s nurse, Andrea, making the same mistake as she did, when they could both have fur coats and three-diamond rings.

Alexia Acker

Hard-working Alexia is a divorcee, who likes to pretend to be the queen of casual relationships, when, actually, she has a massive crush on her boss. It’s only when Andrea’s relationships fall to pieces that her distant-minded colleague reveals the soft side of her meant for love. And she’s got the best advice: fight for your goals.

Mark Morrison

Mark wasn’t impressed when Andrea applied for a post at Swinford Clinic. Sure, she had the 2:1 to prove her intelligence, but her heart wasn’t in the hospital life. When one of Andrea’s lovers goes to Mark for help, will he reconsider his offer?

Ryan Garner

Arguably Lucas’ best friend – though it’s clear that four months has not been enough for the absent-minded HOD – Ryan teaches chemistry and is the first to see that Lucas goes weak at the knees at Andrea’s entrance. *somehow, I managed to marry Ryan twice in the novel. I mean: to the same woman*

Harry Brook

Always inviting Keith to the pub, Harry talks about his ex-wife a lot when warning Keith off being in a serious relationship. It’s clear he’s not confronted his divorce properly, and he is given the chance to do this, once and for all.

Epic quote(s) you wrote?

All of the quotes! *I wish* I’ve put the titles of the projects by the last quote of their section.

“We are not heroes, only pawns in a game, losers, like the rest. To hold and conquer time is to make us the lords of this new society.”

Quaint emotions bloomed from the teenager and into the adult, an attraction curling the eyelashes and stilling the mind.

Weaving against each other, they kissed for the sake of kissing. DMWT

Solace, it seemed, emerged from distraction and power. They had a war to compile.

The last thought still hummed in his brain when he jumped up and shut the window: had losing this fight been worth seeing his portrait in the hall alongside his father’s?

“A letter,” Lysander said. He thrust the letterhead into the air. Not as if it was going to stay there. Lysander didn’t care. The envelope poured to the floor, along with the last button of his shirt; hands were needed for a better activity.

Lysander raised his eyebrows slowly. He said nothing – he had no need to. Blue eyes, coloured like rain, howled into his own. The searing image of his own sight scraped him. Raw, clean.

“I am a violent person. Where are the virtues Aristotle decreed? Where have I left them? In what dungeon did I throw offending justice?” Lysander Yakinos

A society of sceptics eyeing the external world together made for an apt post-non-apocalyptic society. Revelation

Show us your favourite funny scene!

Humour is not a strong suit of mine, especially in this year’s pieces (my other trilogy is more devoted to the black humour tone), but here’s a cringe-worthy scene I was particularly proud of writing:

Placing her teeth into her bottom lip, she turned on the shower once more until she heard not even her thoughts, only the melodic patter of the water as it hit the porcelain tray below. Washing the grapefruit-gel through her dark locks, she hummed again. The day was all right, even counting the lack of sleep. Maybe she would ask Linacre to cover for her once her family had infiltrated The Institute, and she would go and nap and dream about being her past self with nothing to care about but getting into the Physics—

“Zara?” called a voice – about two metres from her.

Zara jumped. She shrieked. She cut the water off with one hand, and threw the other over her naked body. A man stood a little out of sight when she looked over her left shoulder. The steam drifted off her body and evaporated and condensed on its surroundings. In her clearer sight, Zara stared at the man in her bathroom. Maximillian Folster.

“Max!” she screeched. “Get out. Get out!”

“Oh, my!” he exclaimed, face burning from beige to a deep red. Yet, despite her protests, Max made no move. Idiot.

“Max!” Zara didn’t have enough hands when his gaze grew octopus tentacles, pulling her apart. She lunged for the towel on the rack a metre away, and untidily draped herself in it.

“What do you damn well want?” she asked. Her face burnt, but she stepped once to the side and tilted her body upwards to be about level with Max’s own. “What do you mean by coming in here?”

“I— also I—” Not only had his cheeks boiled into rosy lumps, embarrassment had painted his entire face a healthy glow. “You see, I—” Max didn’t know what to say when he had no idea where to look. From studying the ground, he flexed his own fingers, pushing them to breaking point. This must have caused frustration for him, as he looked up immediately after doing so.

And then, as if he had forgotten how her naked flesh rippled under the prison of the towel, he blushed dark again, and the whole circle of awkwardness repeated.

Zara grew sick of the game – and she was getting cold. “I need to get dressed. Whatever you have to say to me, say it now or say it later, I don’t care. Shoo, Max, shoo.”

Show us a snippet of dialogue you’re proud of.

I love dialogue. DMWT had a particular good selection, because of the dynamics between the four central characters. This piece is between the protagonist and antagonist.

“Please, you don’t see how much my family matters to me. If I’m stuck here, who can tell them not to make the same mistakes as I have done?”

Zoey’s smile snapped wide, eagerly mocking. “Poor, little Zara, who suffers from the Cassandra complex. Don’t mess with time.”

Cinema Sins - "Hey, that's the title!"

Cinema Sins – “Hey, that’s the title!”

“Look,” Zara said. She spread her hands wide. “If I could have helped Tia back then, I would have. If I had known she was here… Anybody else and I would have done the same. Don’t you see that?”

Zoey snorted. “I see only you, Costello.”

Zara retracted her hands – the fierce heat radiating from Zoey already burnt her face, and she wouldn’t risk her hands getting the same treatment.

“We’re all going to vanish like her anyway.” Zoey shrugged one hand onto her hip, whilst the other swiped her hair from roots to tips. “The paths of time converge – they’ve seen that we don’t belong and they’re trying to eradicate us, one body at a time. People die everyday and we can’t stop that happening. Costello – you’ve been the war with your well-blooded family; they lost so arbitrarily. Well, I tell you this: time’s gonna suck away some people. If they escape into this hell, time’s gonna find them eventually.”

I also enjoyed looking back on this snippet between Max and Zara:

Finally, his seriousness was too much for Zara. “Max, be quiet! I know you can sound like me so stop pretending that you’re from another century.”

“But I am from another century,” he murmured, cooling the tips of his words, but keeping a pronounced difference from her. “I saw the way you reacted when you found out that Linacre came here from 1991. I may have not travelled as far as him – if we think of this place as a definite spot, not some slipped-between-the-crack hostel, as now it really is – but I was still born in the a different century from your hear— from you.”

Zara shook her head. She lounged against the scannerboard until Max’s raised eyebrow pulled her away. “But you’re not Linacre. Not in skin, no, not in personality or smile. Forget your crusty upbringing and embrace this improbable present day. You’re my friend, so be my friend, not this transformed stranger.”

Tell us about some funny typos or writer-bloopers you’ve had this year!

Sadly, I’ve not had many funny too-fast-writing mistakes. I get perfect-imperfect tense shifts, possessives coming out of nowhere or failing to make it to work on time, and characters trailing off literally mid-sentence (where, I suppose, I told myself I’d add later).

‘Zara scuffed your feet’ somehow ended up in my recent editing of a third-person novel.

What has writing taught you about yourself this year?

I can pitch better than I thought I could. Also, though it’s more about my manuscript than me, that my first pages/chapter drags way too much. I’ve rewritten it three times this year.

To sum up this year, my pitches can intrigue, but my first pages let me down. Oh, and I can speed-write and speed-edit if I set my goals correctly.

Best piece of writing advice you learnt this year?

Don’t submit to agents and small press editors simultaneously.

Last word from your manuscript(s)! Go!

*These are so odd out of content*

DON’T MESS WITH TIME: Institute

TRIANGLE: loveheart

REVELATION: forever

LYSANDER YAKINOS: year

ESSAYS, TURQUOISE WINGS AND ME: cheeks

First sentences from your manuscript(s)!

DMWT: Physics was confusing enough without adding a fifth dimension that Zara didn’t even believe in.

TRIANGLE: Swinford was more of a hospital than a clinic, and that fact alone annoyed Andrea.

REVELATION: I’d not thought about believing in God before the apocalypse.

LYSANDER YAKINOS: He was an odd man, was Lysander Yakinos Archer. *straight to the point, wahey!*

TURQUOISE WINGS: Autumn leaves hugged the road in a blanket of amber.

DMWT first draft

DMWT first draft

Anything big on the horizons for next year? Plans to query? Publish? Edit?

Oohoo, you tease me.

REVELATION has literally just been published in the Fauxpocalypse anthology; expect print book release time early-mid January.

The editing for WHEN THE CLOCK BROKE goes on. I’m hoping to do most of my rewriting (to make it more interesting) of chapter one over the Christmas holiday. Actually, chapter one has killed me. I am secretly a ghost, given up on writing. On a more serious note, yes, this rewriting is for querying. I said I’d do so by the end of this year, but university altered my plans.

Tell us a bit about a book you’re super excited to write in 2014!

I’ll be typing up the remainder of DON’T MESS WITH TIME, but I’m more excited about getting started on one of the new projects swarming my mind. I’m ready to get writing again! I doubt I’ll start the NA uni romance I’m planning (leave that for CampNaNo!), and whilst I’d like to begin on the final of the Time, Stopped trilogy – I started one-step planning it on urge this afternoon – I’m hoping to get more of OF ONE LONDON EYE written properly, instead of in starts and spurts as I am currently. It’s about time I completed Aggie’s YA mystery trilogy.

Basically: Agnetha’s thrilled to start her paid training at Oxford Met policestation, but paperwork and lost boys wasn’t exactly what she signed her murder-solving mind up for. Luckily, a familiar toothbrush-moustached detective trusts her enough to let her shadow a team to London. When the mystery of a missing child reveals a crime aimed at Agnetha herself, she is running for her life in a strange city. It’s time for the eighteen-year-old to doubt what she’s always trusted – her wits – and, as the trilogy comes to a close, she may well lose more than her job…

Here’s a snippet from one of the first chapters:

“Yes, Agnetha,” Wallis said, “criminology is dull. We don’t live in a TV land. We aim to reduce the risk of the propensity of crime, not slip on sunglasses whenever we find a mystery.”

I raised a slender eyebrow at her.

“Be happy you’re not a forensic. Police-people get the better job.”

“Oh, yes,” I remarked absently. “I have a B in A Level Psychology, remember.”

PC Wallis’ lips twitched. Wordless, she slid off the desk and, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, stalked over to her wedged computer.


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WIPpet Wednesday 4th

Rather depressingly, I have to report that my memory stick has snapped. Since my Windows 8 laptop is super efficient, I’ve not been needing the device to write with, and I didn’t lose much. Some of my edits of Of Jackets and Phones *smacks pillow* and my smoothed-out end of one of the chapters of DMWT. I was able to grab back the beginning of the following chapter, from this post, and I intend to not look at that messy ending of the previous chapter. I’ll block it from my mind as much as possible… I think there’s still a chance for me to recover the memory stick files (-or-am-I-just-being-naive-?).

Work-in-Progress Wednesday

Wantage_Hawkins

Let’s see. It’s the 4th of the 12th, ’13. How about lines 13 lines? Oh, look, that’s exactly what I wanted to post, xD. I don’t really do selective paragraphs well.  To recap: we’re looking back at Secondary Character Max’s life as he starts college, pressured into Physics by his parents when Genetics is what his mind has been on. I’ve skipped the Head of College speech for you, since it’s meant to be dry and explanatory. Again, first/second draft weaknesses. But I like it at the moment. Instead, I’ve jumped past the page-break to Max’s meeting with one of the other first years on his floor.

A dreamy smile flit onto his lips. He didn’t think of the chance to meet new people or the drinks, but of the chance of discovering what had hidden in his mind not blood. Success through brains, not Name. His excitement came from the idea of practical work; reading about building machines no longer sated the chattering white-noise in his mind.

A knock on the door roused him from his reverie. Science held time more than fame. Max skipped to the door, and, with one flick of his hand, unlocked it.

“Enter.”

The man Max had shared words with earlier commandeered the door. He rested his hands upon his hips, whilst his eyes soared over the cubicle.

“My brother said the Folster heir had breached the premises. Maximillian, am I correct?”

“Broth—?”

Max saw it then: the lack of crinkles around the edges of the man’s eyes, the thinner slant of his neck and shoulders. Not the person with whom he had spoken, but his younger brother. This must be the one studying Physics.

“Apt room, Folster.”

Max strode away, lowering himself onto his bed when he was sure the man had no more remarks. “It suffices. Pray, tell me your name. I think we skipped that vital introduction.”

The boy pulled the same amused face as his brother. “Ezekial Maverique.” He shifted his hands to one lock of that same corn-coloured hair, tossing it away with arrogant pride.

“Nice to truly meet you,” Max said. He extended a hand, but Ezekial simply gazed at it. Before Max thought he would not shake it, his lips twitched into an upwards smile and he grasped Max’s hand up and down twice. His tight hands were warm.

“Well, it seems we shall sit Physics 101 and the basic structural assembly classes together, Folster.”

“We will.” Max smiled. No matter how he tried, the uncomfortable knot did not abolish from the pit of his stomach. How did the man know his favourite module choice? Ezekial’s higher status – and the fact he blatantly knew it – unnerved him, but something more made Max’s hair stand on end.

What do you think? Should Max trust Ezekial or his stomach, or is there more under the mop of corn-coloured hair than just a snappy mouth? Any ideas about what happens next? xD It would be many years before Max would meet the MC, Zara, but that’s the bit of the chapter I’m not willing to re-copy out yet.


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Reasons I’ve Not Been Posting This Week

I promised myself I’d post about my perception lecture yesterday – and, if anything goes to plan, I may well still post on the weekend – but my time-management is all over the place, as well as my body-clock being on crazy. I’ll probably survive the sleepover at this rate.

Nevertheless, I crawl back to Miss Alexandrina with an apology and some rather tepid reasons:

  • I’ve been working on an examined lab report for tomorrow – to the point where I open my eyes and see graphs. Urg. I feel like I’m doing a NaNo of my own.
  • I’ve also been stressing out about said lab report, causing me to watch rubbish TV and gorge sweets as a distraction. I have an unhealthy lifestyle. Deal with it.
  • I do too many extra-curricula activities and I like that. I will head to swing dance soon.
  • I should be editing WTCB, but I’m procrastinating.
  • After receiving it back from my beta, I’m still editing my short story about modern-day fairies, tentatively called Green Wings in the Maths Block. Here’s an extract:

“Fuck,” she said.

A hand – silvery-white in the dim light – crept down her thigh again and yanked away a slip of the torn skirt. She crumpled the murky piece of fabric and pressed it against her skin. Onto a trail of thick liquid. Had the ooze not been violent green, I would’ve sworn that she had been injured. Had she not been cut by some wooden-bladed arrowhead now on the floor, I might have believed her pain was real.

Still, though, the woman dabbed at her gash.

So, anyway, that’s me for now. WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY! How has your week been? As busy as mine? If you’re doing NaNo, how is it going, just after halfway through?

 


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WTCB September: Geography of The Continent

This is yesterday’s post. Technically. Today’s post is not coming, either, though it is Thursday, so that can be forgiven. My evening in which  I intended to post was a nightmare. First, I had powercut for an hour and I lost the Sims household I was playing on. That makes me grumpy anyway! Next, my keyboard and mouse stopped working. And then, at quarter to nine, I lost this original beginning of draft because I’m a ninny and forgot that my laptop is connected to the same plug as the main computer now.

It’s fair to say that I gave up at 9 o clock. Grr.

On the other hand, my French manicure went well and I had some Horlicks. Yum.

AND – I’m posting this on my new laptop. Yay! Now I have the resources, I intend to get back onto schedule – at least, before the big computer packs up and kills all my backup files before I’ve backed them up. Sorry – stressing!

So, here it is. The first of the WTCB September posts: about the land in which all the characters reside, The Continent. It’s an alternate universe, where the tectonic plates never moved so much for all the continents we see in our world. As scribed in The Almanac:

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(All my landscape photography is on the main computer. You’ll have to deal with an old photo of lavender for the while)

To shape a world similar to our own but so very different is difficult. An alternate history is no easy-catch clause, but, in a way, it saves this universe from being swept up in modern fantasy and fairytale.

But where did the split from our humanity begin? Was it right at mental genesis? Documents held in The Continent’s Administration Office claim that when the settlers, those who began to understand their world with reasoning and emotive minds, began writing, they described ‘factios’ (possible translation and transcription is unclear of this term. Other variations include ‘factions’ and ‘factio’ as the plural) between the groups swinging down from the trees.

Not only existed those who had the ability to craft or command better than others, but also those who developed their own style of living. In our world, we might call them foreigners, for these factios might well be compared with the cultures across our broad spectrum of the Earth. Except that these all lived on the same block of land, slowly spreading themselves outwards for their own needs – those who learnt to sew nets and spot motions moved to the sea-edges for their fishing. Those who knew the craft of writing remained in the centre, where every other skilledman could reach their power.

As time passed, these factios saw themselves as the better, even when they were not self-sufficient without the other factios – and from there, it is assumed the original shapes of class came.

But they also still pushed through the same great minds we have encountered. From just beyond the land a mile from Costello Mansion – according to legend – a sharp-minded, clear-voiced Socrates proclaimed of his ideas for a civilisation governed by equal rights and rules; one of the first applicants to a teaching-school (that is, what were later known as the colleges) with an interest in philosophy was a hook-nosed boy whose parents had been part of the factio counting grain. Using his knowledge of counting, Renee Descartes devised a Cartesian division still used in Zara’s time.

From a family of painters related to the Archers and descended from those first hut-builders came Michelangelo in the early twentieth century; from the scientific minds supposedly connected to the Leighs grew Hen Forstere and his brother Eddison, creators of, respectively, the Automised Taxicab, and the captured oil-lamp.

Freud himself was a contemporary of Tia’s. However, his status as a butler meant that his profound, youthful ideas about the mind were dismissed until after his death.

Even two generations of Woolfs were formed of the ill-fated marriage of a lower-class and upper-class citizen, brought together through their love of forbidden literature in 2070.

Although the land never separated into more than four (known of 2083) tectonic plates, the community still manages its equivalents of French, English, Greek and the like. If you told a Continentian those names, the words would be drivel, but this must be their equivalent of the Upper and Lower societies divided by position, rather than blood and money.


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May I…?

Hello, awesome blog readers! I feel like I ought to have some stream of a theme for May…at least, the first couple of weeks. May has always been a special month for me, especially since I recently found out it is the month of Mary, Mother of Jesus, too! As part of that and the Year of Faith, I’m going through the decade of the rosary at school.

So, I felt I ought to add some May-spice to my posts here, too.

Any ideas, my readers? I want to keep it simple. You can probably feel the strain emanating as I write this; I don’t have much mental power left for blog posts in the evening, what with revision and magazine work and editing. Don’t get me wrong, though, I love the strain. It keeps me from thinking of res cordis tenerae.

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I intend to put up a picture-post of flowers, recent and past, soon, but that’ll likely be for a Tuesday. Wednesday at a push.

I’d actually like to take my mind off life with a set of challenges given by you comites blogspheris (companions of the blogsphere!), but, again, that’s dependant on what I’m physically and mentally able to do. It’s, as we say in Psychology, the length-breadth trade-off.

So far, I’ve actually done pretty well for filling half of my week, but ideas are always appreciated! And, as you can see, I’m currently in the middle of redesigning my blog for a more summery feel.

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Until tomorrow,

Alex :)


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My Writing Space

Inspired by Jae’s original post about the perfect spot for writing. I put a couple of tweaks on the original sense of the post, since I already work in one of the best places for writing – because I know it well. That’s not to say I wouldn’t like the book-filled order of, say, the Costello’s library, but I know that’s never going to be a reality.

I’ll shelf it to exist in my novels, for the moment.

Look at it. I would have said it’s uninviting, but I had angled the chair well then. I miss that chair. It broke, as swivel chairs often do. I was probably playing around too much. This, including the new chair, could be a plain place, but I prefer my desks free of clutter. That comes from my obsessive nature.

Alex's Study

Because I’ve lived in rented houses my entire life (and thus have never been allowed to attach things to the walls), I’ve never been surrounded by utmost decor and individualism. That’s not to say I’ve never tried. Let’s continue looking at my study.

I know one of the items I first notice in the picture is the Roman Mysteries poster. I met author Caroline Lawrence when I was twelve and she was one of the people who inspired me both to write and to study classical culture. Mysteries and Romans. It’s a great mix and the series is so well done.

My scientific side intervenes when one spots that I have a periodic table of elements pinned to the adjacent side of the box. I used to memorise the elements for Chemistry. I think I would get as far as 23 before I choked. Nowadays, the list is more like ten. Along with the square-root of Pi…. Call that a habit.

And yes, I store the removable Christmas tree there. With such a small house, there’s nowhere else, really, to put it.

So, there you have it: my workplace and where I spend most of my time when I’m not at school. As my laptop has no internet connection, most of my blogging, uploading, creating and Sim-ing happens here. Hence, my own little ‘perfect’ space. It’s not, but I wouldn’t ask for a change.

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