Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist


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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.

EvesApple

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:

http://www.amazon.com/Eves-Apple-Marie-Therese-Kceif/dp/1462410219

Also available at the Publisher’s Website:

http://bookstore.inspiringvoices.com/Products/SKU-000693538/Eves-Apple.aspx

Goodreads Giveaway: (drawing to occur April 26)

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/132147-eve-s-apple

 

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?


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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

~1~

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.

~2~

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.

~3~

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.

~4~

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.

~5~

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…

~6~

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.

~7~

Alchemist siblings Brielle and Pierre

Alchemist siblings Brielle and Pierre


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

Snapshot_20140926_41

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/

7thhttp://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

8thhttp://www.juliathewritergirl.com/

9thhttp://www.freeasagirlwithwings.wordpress.com/

10thhttps://ramblingsofaravis.wordpress.com/

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

12thhttp://randommorbidinsanity.blogspot.com/

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

14thhttp://kirabudge.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/

19thhttp://horsfeathersblog.wordpress.com/

20thhttps://clockworkdesires.wordpress.com/

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

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

23rdhttp://unikkelyfe.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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‘Losing It’ is Out

(Pun totally intended. ;) ) Okay, the official release date for the collection of steamy short stories by various NA and YA authors was released yesterday (11.02.15), but I…may have forgotten, sorry! :P

Dat cover guy… :P

LosingIt_Cover_Final_R22 Bestselling YA authors reveal what went on behind the curtain in your favorite YA novels! From paranormal to contemporary, this collection features over 200 pages of ALL NEW CONTENT full of deleted scenes, extended endings, and more from the young adult series’ you love. 

In this YA/NA crossover collection, all of your favorite heroines are cashing in their VCards! YA just got steamy, sexy, and not afraid to go all the way!

Due to the graphic nature of some content, this collection is recommended strictly for mature readers. 

Stories include excerpts and extended material—ALL NEW CONTENT—featuring the following YA novels & authors:

The Grimoire Saga by SM Boyce

The Death Series by Tamara Rose Blodgett

Penny Black Trilogy by Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Dirty Blood series by Heather Hildenbrand

The Mythology Series by Helen Boswell

Stories About Melissa Series by Bethany Lopez

Keegan’s Chronicles by Julia Crane

The Tate Chronicles by K.A. Last

Fragile Creatures by Kristina Circelli

The Spellbound Trilogy by Nikki Jefford

Judgement of the Six Series by Melissa Haag

A Dark Faerie Tale Series by Alexia Purdy

The Double Threat Series by Julie Prestsater

The Elsker Saga by S.T. Bende

Ovialell Series by Tish Thawer

The Runes Series by Ednah Walters

The Cornerstone Series by Misty Provencher

The Waiting Series by Ginger Scott

Forged Series by A.O. Peart

The Arotas Series by Amy Miles

Funeral Crashing Mysteries by Milda Harris

The Wolf Trilogy by M.R. Polish

~

Want to know what it was like for these YA authors to write the dirty details?

Hop on over to their blogs and find out! Hear about their “firsts” writing the sexy scenes and get entered to win paperbacks from each and other awesome prizes! The full schedule and participating sites can be found here (through 2/18/15).

LosingIt_BlogHop

22 Shades of Virginity…

Join all of the authors for a special Twitter chat on Thursday, Feb 11 from 7-9pm. Come hang and get all of your burning questions answered! Ask us anything and don’t forget to use: #VCARD

twitter party

Interested? I know I am. There are some great indie authors in this pack. Losing It is available now. To buy:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo

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