Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist


Beautiful People: The Costello Brothers

Time for the monthly Beautiful People meme hosted by the lovely lasses Cait and Sky. This month’s topic of interest was of siblings, those mysterious people we have no choice but to know because we grew up with them. I write a lot of siblings, so this could have been a difficult choice for me who to talk about – but, in the end, it was always going to be siblings Rion and Phillip Costello, fourth and fifth of the eminent Costello clan in Phillip’s Era. The Costellos, particular Rion, Phillip, and Peter Costello, feature heavily in When the Clock Broke­ – not least because Phillip is one of the Main Characters of the novel.


  1. What is the first memory they have of each other?

No doubt, Rion’s first memory was of a mother confined to her room for a couple of months. The boys were both young when they were first introduced, obviously, but neither has a distinct first memory of the other. Phillip remembers Rion running about the orangery; and Rion remembers Phillip and Octavia Costello’s cries in the night, but these are little memories compared with everything else.

  1. Describe their relationship in 3 words.

Bitter at best.

  1. What kind of things do they like to do together?

They might not admit it, but Rion and Phillip actually have a lot of things they like to do in similar, such as dining in full evening dress, and, uh, taking the air, ahem, with their lovers.

  1. What was their biggest fight?

Difficult to say, but probably the incidents of the novella/short story I never managed to write more of than on a writing site: Lysander Yakinos Archer (caution: mild mature scenes). I’m rather protective of the plot since I’ve not brought a finish to the writing/editing and bits of it are in the yet-unwritten final instalment/novel of the Time, Stopped Trilogy, but I’ll say that Phillip disapproved of Rion’s life-choices, lost his temper, and events got out of hand. Rion misinterpreted further events as Phillip’s fault and swore to stop his happiness, too.

(Of course, I’m biased to Phillip’s side.)

  1. How far would they go to save each other?

Despite how Rion has frequently been malicious towards him, Phillip would try and save Rion from himself, if Rion would listen. Rion, on the other hand, is bent in jealousy and his anger, and would try the opposite to throw Yet…he would never kill him or let him wander into danger, such as is their blood.

  1. What are their pet peeves about each other?

Phillip can’t stand how sycophantic Rion is, particularly around their father. One of Rion’s biggest pet peeves against Phillip is how pretentious he can be, all poetry and no fight.

  1. What are their favourite things about each other?

When they were younger, Rion secretly envied how much attention his mother shed on Phillip; as such, they share the fact they care about their parents, and, despite their battles, this must bring them closer to some extent.

  1. What traits do they share? Mannerisms, clothing, quirks, looks, etc?

Philllip (Matthew Lewis)

They have the same dominant-gene raven-black hair and similar sharp-cut jaws. As Costello bachelors and siblings with two years between their ages, they do have similar taste in outfits (though Rion tends towards more expensive-cut suits in darker shades, but he also has a terrible habit of tearing them easily). Both brothers tend to slick down their hair with a quiff in the front – although a nice formality (and something to make them appear more attractive possibly!), not every Costello brother actually slicks their hair, but Phillip and Rion are rarely out of hairwax.

Similar in image, not in personality or goals.

  1. Who has the strongest personality?

Rion (Rob James Collier)

Rion. In 2010, the beginning of the novel, Phillip can barely stand up to his older brother, not only afraid to, but also ashamed to. As well as the ‘status quo’, Phillip doesn’t quite know how to argue against Rion without being humiliated. If anything, it’s learnt habit on both their parts. Rion belittles Phillip because he knows he will get no backlash, and Phillip allows the belittlement because he expects insults from any train of thought he makes.

  1. How does their relationship change throughout your story?

It definitely has an element of role-reversal about it: as Phillip grows in confidence, Rion’s assured, brattish exterior suffers some major blows and we see his interior riddled with jealousy. I think that Phillip, whilst sharp in tongue about Rion, would definitely be willing to forgive his brother for his malicious behaviour – everybody must have some kind of reason for their actions. Rion, on the other hand, refuses to move on from the incidents that he believe Phillip did to him. Subtle vengeance. Think Evil Queen/Regina Mills from Once Upon a Time.

Sometimes the most interesting villains are those who were once pals with the protagonists (though, I’ll admit, I can hardly say that Phillip and Rion were particularly friendly to begin with). Well, that is a little peek into the lives and times of two of the Costello brothers. Check out other sibling pairs in the Beautiful People monthly tag. And, seeing as I made it into April’s one with a mere hour to go, you should check out other people’s posts.

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What’s Up, Wednesday? 22/4/15

Well, it’s been a while since my last What’s Up, Wednesday?. Phew. Nice to have a format, though, so while my schedule’s still all over the place, I’ll find myself a little bit in these short headings.

What I’m Reading

Reading several books at the moment, including SPLINTERED by AG Howard (I’m halfway through), ADAMANT by Emma L Adams (loving the voice and the setting!), and HEART OF BRASS by Kate Cross (just started – it’s more Steampunk research that casual reading, so I’ll take it more slowly).

What I’m Writing

Not actually activity writing every day like I used to, but that’s acceptable around exam time. Other than editing WTCB as per usual, I have also been working on Mallard: Cosmic Train when I can, but at the moment, there’s not much progress but transferring what I have on my phone onto the Word doc..

ii) Goal for this week: write a little bit more of The Mallard whilst I am away at the Steampunk festival. Be inspired. And write something beautiful.

What Works for Me

The sunshine. It’s been inspired me as of late – simply because warmth and light brightens my mood (remember, I am part cat! :P). It has helped me to get on with things and spurred me into all the relaxation that summer is. Just got to get through this term…

I have also been hunting through the TED Talks for psychology and linguistics ones, and there are some fascinating ones that actually relate to my course. :) I am trying to immerse myself with science when I can – not only for my revision mind, but also because every Steampunk needs a good bit of science to bolster its fiction, which is one of the reasons I love writing it.

What Else is New

Revision and back to uni for the last term. It’s only eight weeks, but this actually means more things to do. Everything’s just jammed into a smaller space, like a bad skeleton key.

I will also be heading to the Whitby Goth Weekend tomorrow in (surprisingly enough) Whitby, a town on the North East coast of England. This means I won’t be on the blog, but I’ll be back for Monday’s Photo. :)

Tell me – what have you been up to? Reading anything good at the moment? Or are you, too, swamped under work or school pressures?

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‘Eve’s Apple’ Virtual Book Tour

Today, I’m taking part in the virtual book tour for Eve’s Apple by Marie Therese Kceif. It’s an inspirational autobiography, detailing a woman’s journey to God and conversion to the Catholic Church through the difficulty life has thrown at her, including war, abuse, and divorce.


Title: Eve’s Apple

Author: Marie Therese Kceif

A Witness of God’s Faithfulness: Marie struggles to grow in grace and guidance from the Lord while slowly recognizing her own rebellion. She intimately shows us the highs of her aviation, military and automotive careers and the suffering lows of abuse, bankruptcy, and divorce. Her relationship with God grows through it all. Eve’s Apple is a witness of how God gently guides one of His Eves into a slow freeing surrender of a Mary’s trusting yes. This is a journey of hope, faith, and real relationship!


As a convert myself, I always enjoy reading about others’ journeys, and Marie’s stark writing captivated me, offering its own signs towards God. I was particularly moved by the passages she described of her experiences of how adultery, divorce, and remarriage can be selfish and affect more people than simple the couple involved. Interspersed with Scripture quotes and church teachings, Marie’s tale of adversary emphasises how God is always guiding us and with us if we listen to the signs He is providing. Indeed, I was able to relate to Marie about times when I have ignored God’s suggestions for a selfish alternative. Yet, the book does have a happy ending – showing how each of our bad decisions can bring us into God’s light in the end.


Now isn’t that a lovely cover? Full of the idea of Eve’s temptation to stray from God.


Available on Amazon in softcover and hardback:


Also available at the Publisher’s Website:


Goodreads Giveaway: (drawing to occur April 26)



Marie’s Biography:

From farm life in Wisconsin, Marie Therese Kceif went on to have a varied full life. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics. Marie became an active duty US Army Capt. and pilot, automotive manager, bible study leader, RCIA guide, lector, speaker, writer, mom and wife. She now lives with her husband in Fenton, Michigan.

You can contact Marie Therese at marietheresekceif@gmail.com

Other stops on the Virtual Book Tour:
April 9 – Karee Santos (Can We Cana)
April 13 – Ellen @ Plot Line and Sinker
April 14 – Michael Seagriff (Harvesting the Fruits of Contemplation)
April 15 – Alexandrina Brant <
April 16 – Karee Santos (Can We Cana) Review
April 17 – Jean Heimann (Catholic Fire)
April 18 – A.K. Frailey
April 19 – Melanie Juneau (The Joy of Nine)
April 20 – Nancy Ward (Joy Alive.net)
April 21 – Dana Doyle (Catholic Working Mom)
April 22 – Ellen @ Plot Line and Sinker (Interview)

Thanks to Ellen Gable for inviting me onto this book tour, and to Marie Therese Kceif. She is offering a free ebook code to a winner each day of the Virtual Book Tour. Comment below for a chance to win. Tell me, readers, religious or not, what is a favourite inspirational story, fiction or non-fictional, you have come across and why?


Beautiful People: Greetings to Patience

I’m still editing – and trying to balance the two academic and creative meanings of ‘revision’ – so I have no fully-formed character to present for you. Instead, I’m going to have a new-new character for this month’s great questions of the Beautiful People tag (hosted by Cait and Sky). Patience (surname-not-yet-created) is the MC and a maid in one of the steampunk stories I want to write and of which I have a couple of scenes.

  1. What is their secret desire?

Although she outwardly strives for adventure and wouldn’t say no to the job of travelling into the atmosphere, Patience is actually quite shy and very afeared towards the monster aboard The Mallard cosmic train. Her secret desire is probably a simple one: to have a family and not be a servant her entire life, even if the alternative is ‘serving’ as a mother (!). Thus, it’s natural that she forms a bond with similar-minded family-orientated Milo so quickly. It’s not insta-love (in which I don’t believe), but I have seen this sort of bond form in real life, so I know it is possible to transfer to characters.

  1. What is the best and brightest moment they experience during the story?

Probably kissing Milo. I mean, getting to travel to space is awesome and all, but to meet a fellow mind and to go through mystery with him is something that Patience will never experience in her life again. Hair flowing against the backdrop of stars…

File:Messier 5 Hubble WikiSky.jpg

Messier 5 stars, as seen through the Hubble telescope. Wikipedia commons


  1. What are the emotional places your characters are afraid to go to?

As an orphaned only-child, Patience can be quite shielded at times. Not one of those dramatic leading ladies who struggles to bond because her parents were unfair or abusive or, conversely, over-soft, but nevertheless someone who doesn’t share her mind so much when it comes to serious matters. Her parents were not overly-strict or overly-caring, so she appears to not miss them so much. I think she could open her heart to her childhood, though – not be afraid to admit that she wasn’t a working girl her entire life.

  1. Is there a place/city/room where they will never go?

Patience will probably never get to travel. At least: to the other side of Earth. Even when her contract with The Mallard ends, she will probably go back into service (unless Queen Victoria enlists another such contraption) and thus will be confined to England. Patience is not a lady’s maid – hence why she was dispensable yet reliable – so she doesn’t get to travel to other Earth countries with her mistress. I suppose that answers the question, even though I haven’t really thought out much of Patience’s ‘backstory’ yet.

  1. If they were permanently leaving town, what would they easily throw out? What would they refuse to part with?

She easily throws out her outfits and miscellaneous bits and bobs that she held on to when she worked in her household. These little items – like an acorn seed her first sweetheart gave her – keep her sane on nights when her family are demanding, but when Patience realises that she has a chance to move into a new field of work as a server on The Mallard she doesn’t see the need for trinkets of nature and fabric. Will she reject this move? That’s a question I’ll be asking myself.

Patience has a necklace that belonged to her mother, a small silver cross. She never takes it off, even though it gets broken over the course of the novella. She’d definitely refuse to part with it, due to sentimental value, and her parents’ once-religiosity. It has past and a kind of fortune.

Sweet Dreams

  1. What do they want (consciously and tangibly)?

Patience would rather like to spend some time at the seaside, perhaps trying fish delicacies and lending her hand at gutting the fish. She doesn’t want a fisherwoman’s life over being a maid to a small household, but she’d like to try something different for a while, as she’s getting a little bored of routine and safety. Figures.

  1. On the other hand: what do they need (on the emotional, subconscious level)?

Patience could probably do with some modest restraint. She’s not one of the sharper-tongued MCs I’ve written, but she still has an outspoken streak, even going so far as to question why her mistress sold a ring to pay for Patience to be one of the servers travelling to space.

  1. If they could change one thing about themselves, what would it be?

She doesn’t have the best self-confidence. I know Patience would like her mystery-solving skills to be better based on logic, when she doesn’t realise that she’s actually good at inference mystery and, well, snooping and silent wandering.

Nor, for that matter, does she have the best sense of humour. She’s a serious young woman– though, luckily, not to the point of being the straight man whom I wouldn’t be able to write.

  1. What is the most humiliating event of their life?

Being a servant, she has experience many humiliating moments. Her employers – well, her mistress – are rather demeaning, as was the way for servants. There were many life lessons she learnt about working in a busy household as she grew up, many slip-ups, literal and figurative.

  1. What things do they turn to when they need a bit of hope?

Back on Earth, Patience was friends with a younger maid, Marie, who, although lovely, was the lowest in the social hierarchy, and, as such, a bit of a drip. In orbit, however, Patience cannot turn to her absent friend, and she trusts no one but Milo onboard the lethal vessel. On the other hand, she is known to the driver for her love of almond cake and gingerbread pudding from the dining car.

Look, Cait, food for you! Hope you all enjoyed my Beautiful People post for March. I certainly learnt a lot about the backstory and past of my newest MC. Readers, don’t forget to check out the other writers who have participated in this month’s Beautiful People posting.

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Is There A Knack To Writing (Steampunk)?

Credit to Cait, because I can’t art like she can.

Credit to Cait, because I can’t art like she can.

Well, actually I’m writing a novella*.

Academic work has been tough lately – getting on top of things. I was chatting to my boyfriend, whose weeks consist of 9-5s or similar days in work; whilst mine are few in contact, as I listed the things I have to do today (writing a blog post notwithstanding), I realised that I have so much yet to do as the term wears on.

So, before I go on, here’s a video of Hank Green giving tips on how to do all the things (If you’ve not watched How To Adult before, I highly recommend it).

Anyway, where were we? Ah, Steampunk. Much-talked-about topic if you search the internet. I don’t know how much it’s been talked about how to write steampunk, though. I’ve not searched. But Steampunk is the easiest genre for me to write when I need to write in the midst of academic work – I realised at the weekend that it’s what the inside of my brain looks like: shiny things, science, long frilly dresses, and magic.

But is it the easiest? A good example of judging the quality of prose is whether it can be smoothly performed or read aloud. At the Surrey Steampunk convivial last Sunday gone, I had the pleasure of listening to a steampunk short story and a snippet of a steampunk-esque biopic-esque play. What I noticed most was the wonderfully sprightly prose characteristic of steampunk.

It made my writing feel dangerously inadequate.

The problem (at least, I’ve found with WTCB) is that my first draft are needlessly florid. To deal with this, editing has concentrated on removing overwriting – but, with that, I’ve lost…something. Some shininess in steampunk written voice and style.

Do I have any tips from what I’ve learnt? Well, part of steampunk is that it’s each to their own – so, if you want to develop the satire or humour element of steampunk, you’ll be using a different tone of language to if you’re painting a work of elegant structures and grand societies in steampunk.

> There is different slang, different vocab, and different self-concept in the Victorian area. Part of the quirk (and hook) of steampunk is the oft-elaborate and dialogue.

> Antiquated whimsy. In the same vein of thought, steampunk has a certain element or pizazz to its specific genre that other genres won’t or don’t (need to) include.

> The world. Writing a fantasy world is no mean feat, certainly, but it at least has some kind of ready template of an expected map; writing a steampunk landscape is a combination of the rusty, oily mechanics and the lush, greenery better found in Tolkien.

> Following on from that, don’t be afraid to be inspired by what you see around you. Write what you know, and if that’s the soft colours of your garden or the colder colours of your bathroom or study or something completely out of the usual, then that’s the perfect inspiration for a realistic setting.

> The characters. Some steampunk (particularly if utilising satire or humour) applies stereotypes or types to characters: the wacky scientist, the aristocratic elder, the tough air pirate.

Of course, I would never advise of writing a stereotype, but they are a place to start. This allows readers who know steampunk and its umbrella/links to connect with the characters and types they know.

> There is still a story and plot in the glamour and soot. Despite what I’ve said, you cannot forfeit a good, well-woven plot for beautiful and elaborate or complex prose. Balance is crucial, and, yes – balance is difficult.

Of course, there are so many different ways to tackle writing steampunk, and, as we any genre, each writing has their own, personal tactics. Me? I’m going to be reading more Shakespeare, after finding that it conjures up images and characters bright to my imagination. I’m also going to be searching our more ethereal harp music like this sonatina. I don’t tend to write with music, but some draw for me.

The verdict? Steampunk, like every other genre of writing, is difficult. But don’t despair! There are ways of working on it! :P

*Well, actually, since writing the first draft of this post, I’ve started writing another novel, as well.

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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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