Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist

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7 Quick Takes: Shakespeare, Swing, Subjectivity Research

The busyness of my weeks barely permit me to have time to write a post, and I’m squeezing in each as I go, stealing spare pennies.

7 Quick Takes Friday is hosted by Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum.

seven quick take friday 2


As usual, I start with the work. I’ve been doing research for my third year project, which is likely going to be something along the lines of investigating how types of language can change people’s perception of the world and objects.

Subjectivity is weird.


On the leisure side, we had so much dancing this week. Saturday was the Swing Jam social as I mentioned on Monday. Looking through my photos, I didn’t manage to get so many clean-cut and precise ones as I would’ve liked, so I will have to stay dictating to you the fun I had that evening.


Thursday we went to see jazz band The Silver Heels and swing dance to them in a local bar venue. More great fun, especially as so many of the society turned up, and we said goodbye to President Chris as he goes to Cyprus on army business! We were told that if as many dancers arrive next month (Silver Heels is a monthly gig, and God bless everyone for that!), they’ll move the sofa and budge the tables to give us a bigger dancing space, yay! I don’t have a visual clip of The Silver Heels’ work, as normally they’re being listened and danced to, but their Reverbnation page has a nice selection of their songs and covers.


The Annual General Meeting has been on my mind as the committee prepares for it, and I have to compile a list of things that have been and need to be done. I’m working on it, and, actually, the more thought and confidence I let God provide me, the easier I’m finding it being. I have come to realise that too long has come to pass of me letting others speak first when I have an idea. I must not suppress my ideas any more, for the suppression is what lack of confidence has taken me from my dreams.


A rehearsal picture from the official Facebook page


I went to see the Reading Drama Society’s The Tempest this evening. It was wonderful, but what struck me the most was not the lively costumes and makeup, the amazing direction, or the creative acting, but the music, dazzling and heartbreaking. I would love to return to the theatre, and, in particular, back to theatrical music. I have a start in just listening as I work, I guess…


And as I sit here with my tea and thoughts a-brewing, the fiction practically writes itself. I don’t know if I mentioned before my inspiration of A City of Ember, but that has been stirring, and, as I watched my friends and thespians perform, I saw the characters beyond them, I saw the players be my hands and take to me my work.

And that is inspiration.


Alchemist siblings Brielle and Pierre

Alchemist siblings Brielle and Pierre

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TCWT: From Classical to Alternative – What Music Fuels Me?


Since I’ve never been late for a Teens Can Write, Too! post (though, I am sad to mar my record), I think we can let me off that I’m a day late on the schedule. And I’ll see what I can do with my busy bee status. And the irony is that this is one of my favourite prompts. I love the idea of links because music and writing. February’s blog chain prompt is “How does music relate to your writing?”

And, actually, the straight answer to that is extremely. Right off the bat, music relates so much to my writing, by the sheer fact that I ‘gave up’ writing music and lyrics to write books. Moving from one full-time hobby to another full-time hobby, as it were.

But how does music relate to my writing? As in – how is my writing affected by the types of music I listen to? I may be in the minority by not listening to music (with lyrics) as I write, as that throws me away from my mental prose, and I don’t tend to devise a playlist for my novels as some authors have done.* I don’t really feel that there are songs that completely accomplish what I need for writing scenes, characters, and settings; they are two different mediums, after all. We may be able to paint scene with words and with music, to depict emotions, feelings, and humanity through those, but they cannot be analogous.

Though, instead of a playlist, I think it would be quite fun to compile a hypothetical film soundtrack to a novel. But then, that’s me, and I work via visuals in my mind. To me, most of what I read and write is a film anyway.

Nevertheless, I do use music to help my writing. And that’s in editing. There’s something about having music running in the background that kick-starts my mind into writing and concentrating mode. In fact, I’m currently listening to Silent Movie by Frenchy and the Punk as I write this post. Before then, I’d been feeling in a slump, but now I feel like writing again. Of course, this wouldn’t be a post about music without me including some YouTube! This one’s the fun House of Cards ’cause there isn’t a video for Silent Movie on YouTube.

The thing is I couldn’t tell you what sort of genre of music most helps me edit. There are occasions where my music lingers into the classical – for who can resist at the call of Elgar and Vagner? Something dramatic. It’s likely I’ll be editing the fight and shouty scenes (and any other conflicts). There is nothing quite like the rousing organ and an entire or orchestral set to bring one’s writing and the exact set of what needs to be edited to mind. I don’t really have a favourite classical (as opposed to choral: Bach) composer. Anything than writing inspired goes.

Then you’ve got the atmospheric music. The alternate stuff. The tools of my trade: the steampunk** music.

This collection of steampunk songs that were my first dipping my toe into that region. Through them, I found Steam Powered Giraffe, fell in love, recovered from a broken mind, found myself, and, uh, fell in love.

It’s a long story.

There are a lot of good songs missing from this playlist, of course, but it has the ‘hits’ of the bigger bands (most of them US bands). And the original version of SPG’s Brass Goggles with soprano Upgrade. Abney Park are worth a further check out if you like the punk and heavier side of steampunk music. I have the pleasure of seeing them live next term.

**I am aware not every writer on the chain will know Steampunk, the alternative-history sub of SFF, but it wouldn’t be for me to explain it here. I’ve spoken about it before (I even have a category now!) and quoted various figures. Those of you who are Steampunks, do tell, so we can flail together.

*Except for Of Jackets and Phones, the playlist of which I created for its fifth birthday, and is embedded below.

In summary:

I don’t write to music, but I do edit to it, particularly if it’s something atmospheric like steampunk. I don’t have a favourite genre of music to do writing stuff to, and have been known to play from my speakers the craziness of alternative music, the grace of classical and jazz, and the typicalities of mainstream music.

This is such an interesting topic. It appeals to my Psychology degree, in that we can see through observation the types of behavioural and emotional changes that occur when listening to music, writing inspiration and progress (for me) being one of those behaviours. There have indeed been studies on the possible correlations between music and mood, not to mention that even listening to music can release endorphins (one of the ‘happy drugs’ or small-molecule neurotransmitters in our brains).

If you’re not a part of the blog chain, I’d say you should still read through the other days and see what other participants have said.

6thhttp://jasperlindell.blogspot.com/ and http://vergeofexisting.wordpress.com/





11thhttp://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/ andhttp://www.pamelanicolewrites.com/


13thhttp://miriamjoywrites.com/ andhttp://whileishouldbedoingprecal.weebly.com/


15thhttp://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/ andhttp://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

16thhttp://theedfiles.blogspot.com/ andhttp://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/

17thhttp://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/ andhttp://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

18thhttp://semilegacy.blogspot.com/ and http://from-stacy.blogspot.com/



21sthttps://stayandwatchthestars.wordpress.com/ andhttp://arielkalati.blogspot.com/

22ndhttp://loonyliterate.com/ andhttps://www.mirrormadeofwords.wordpress.com/


24thhttp://themagicviolinist.blogspot.com/ andhttp://allisonthewriter.wordpress.com/

25thhttps://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/ <<you were here…yesterday>>

26thhttp://awritersfaith.blogspot.com/ andhttp://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/

27thhttp://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/ andhttp://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

28th – https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)

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Steampunk…. Seriously?

Alexandrina Brant:

At the Airship Ambassador blog: Prof Elemental talks about dispelling the seriousness and negative stereotypes abounding in the Steampunk community. Definitely worth a read if your interests lie alt-history.

Originally posted on Airship Ambassador:

by Professor Elemental

Being a grown up is hard. Mortgages, illnesses, car payments, credit card bills, parenting and politics; these are not activities for the faint hearted. So it’s no wonder that all of us seek some kind of escape from time to time. There’s the telly and the computer, sports and video games, a cornucopia of exciting drugs and new sexual combinations- all there to help ease the pressure of modern life. Still, some of us like to go that extra mile; for some of us, it’s not enough, to watch science fiction- we want to be science fiction. Why sit around imagining an outlandish fantasy when you could actually go out and live it for a while, or at least a fair approximation of it?

That, to me, is the joy of Steampunk. To don a metal arm, squeeze into an impossible corset or even just pop on…

View original 972 more words

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Photo of the Week: Dancing

Swing Jam Reading (a local, monthly Swing Dance social dancing event) from Saturday, which we made into a society social. I was on the door for an hour (out of the goodness of my heart, and also because I cant afford to pay to get in. ;) ), so I grabbed my camera and made use of it.

Testing out filters in the lighting – at night and in a shed-like venue. I like that the camera lens itself refracts the light into vintage-esque. These two practising members of the society include Tom the secretary and one of our newbies, doing their best. :)


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7 Quick Takes about New Ideas, New Earrings, and New Vloggings

I may have been a little busy the last couple of weeks, but I’m back for this week’s 7 Quick Takes with other Catholic bloggers and hosted by the lovely Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum.

seven quick takes friday 2


With my first philosophy essay in this morning, things seem to be settling back to normal a bit— if there is such a life as ‘normal’. Even so, I anticipate I will still be working on items of work and research as the next half of the term begins to gather pace.


Philosophy and consciousness via Instagram



On Friday, I watched the film City of Ember (based on the novel by Jeanne DuPrau). A little predictable, but overall a nice YA Fantasy – good for those who like dystopians, but it was not over-the-top with all the dystopia clichés, like factions, etc. Tempted to buy the book, myself. There was a puzzle-solving aspect that started my mind churning over a new story plan, though I’m not sure whether it’d be a portal fantasy or a city-underground fantasy.


It’s Lent! I’m observing the usual fasting and abstinence rules, which is in addition to the vegan meal I have with my Bible study group every Wednesday. I find Lent a better time for resolutions than the New Year – after all, we are working towards something (ie. the rise of Our Lord) rather than simply the turn of the page or the simple change in the calendar. So, it’s good to use this opportunity to fit back into a better style of living, both spiritually and physically.


I plan to start doing #vlogagrams more. Those are vlogs of a few seconds long on Instagram. Writer Katy Upperman does her own every week on her Instagram and her blog, which is where I first heard of them. I hope these will improve my confidence in front of a camera and my audition anxiety in general. Plus, they work as snippets into my reading life…when I read some more. The main downside is that there is no chance for editing (without downloading an app.), so I have to record straight and off the bat, and this can be more difficult for me, both in time and, you know, confidence.

This week’s theme was #coverlove, so I went with some of the only covers I had in my uni room. Also using YouTube to help me share…


The Etsy bug has bitten me again, so I will have to put on my restraint hat. This time, it’s new vintage stuff. For instance, these lovely earrings (and lovely packaging!) from The Robot Princess, who does all sorts of sciencey and fandom jewellery, if that’s your thing (it’s certainly mine)! I’m quite pleased with this photograph. I might have to utilise the packaging as backdrop for my photos more often.



New idea syndrome has also been hitting as to my steampunk story about The Mallard’s journey into space and the perils our servant heroine faces there. So, I’ve been writing, but not so much on either, just a mix of the both Steampunk WIPs…


He smiled – and in that one smile, my soul slithered from my body and cozied up to his. When it found my chin, his hand was soft; leaning forward a jot, he took the opportunity, and with it my breath. Literally. He sealed his lips over mine, as if the compartment were lacking enough oxygen for the both of us, and he was going to take all available.

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Lenten Fasting and Abstinence.

Alexandrina Brant:

A great poster explaining Lenten fasting and abstinence, the difference between the two and the specifics about who should fast and from what. It’s bright and clear for those (like myself) who may be unsure about the exact ‘rules’ or practises in the Catholic Church around Lent. This will be my second Lent following Catholic practise and I am excited.

Originally posted on 1catholicsalmon:

image@http://ucatholic.com/blog/lent-guide/ image@http://ucatholic.com/blog/lent-guide/

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Lent: A Time for Giving, Not Taking


Photo credit to Ellen Gable


Someone asked me at dinner today what I was giving up for Lent. This took me by surprise. For starters, I thought only teenagers partook in the ritual of giving up foodstuffs for 40 days and night. There is also the point I will make that choosing to give up something can actually have quite a selfish motive, just as the Pharisees in today’s Gospel from Matthew are condemned.

Someone even asked me why I had a grey cross on my forehead.

“It’s Ash Wednesday,” I reminded them.

In return, I received a blank stare.

Forget Christmas, it seems people have forgotten the true meaning of Lent in favour of the edible qualities of ‘Pancake Day’ (Shrove Tuesday) and their own absences. Take Twitter, for example. Now, I am utterly guilty of getting caught up in the trivialities of an account, but I like it as a medium for the business of writing. But yesterday. Yesterday, two of the highest trending topics in the UK Twittersphere were #ruinamoviewithpancake (the next step in the #ruinamovie franchise) and #panflake, the simple idea provided by Cadbury of rolling your pancake around a chocolate Flake.

Firstly – eww. Secondly – urg. It upsets me how little this secular world we live in has even been educated about the reasons for Ash Wednesday or even Shrove Tuesday (how many of us know about the old tradition of using up all the ingredients, really?).

You see, whether people realise it or not, when they are ‘giving up’ something in the name of Lent, they are making an advert for their abstinence – “oh, no, I can’t eat that; I’ve given it up for Lent” – for no reason whatsoever. I suspect a lot of people, particularly those my age, who give something up, do it simply because they are used to the idea that Lent = removing something from their lives. They don’t do it in the name of anything.

I wonder if people are conscious or aware of this invasion of conformity and indolence into their lives.

There is a much better way to respect the world during Lent. Of course, I say this from a Catholic perspective, but the idea that one gives their time in Lent more than anything to helping others is something to which anybody can relate. After all, you’d like people to assist you in your own time of need? Do unto others what you would have done to you.

Lent – if you celebrate it for the sacrifice our Lord made for us – is also a time for giving one’s self in greater strength to the Good Works of the Lord. This may mean setting aside a larger tithe to the Church than normal or giving alms to charity on a more frequent basis, or it may mean giving your time to help someone you wouldn’t normally, stranger or friend or simple daily acquaintance.

A larger part of Lenten devotion also comes in the Church’s urge for daily prayer. I know this is something I will be trying to be better at this Lent. I do like the peace prayer provides one, but I find it so difficult in my busy schedules to actually take time out to give my time for the Lord. In particular, I poke myself for grace before dinner, but the idea to do such is swept from me when I make it up to the dining hall. So, that will be my task – to put my prayer forward for the Lord and better myself in body and soul this Lent.

There is always time to look after others – and no better time to do so than in the 40 days of Lent. Forget about the task you’d set for yourself when giving material items up, but replace the idea of yourself with others to serve. Compassion is greater than the money you’d save by giving up something this Lent. Use it.

Gratuitous Ash service photo

Gratuitous Ash service photo of me


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