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

~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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Beautiful People: The Valentine’s Edition

(Far be it for me to dictate against inspiration from commercialism…) For this month’s Beautiful People, hosted by Cait and Sky, since it’s February, they decided to do a Valentine’s edition and look at significant relationships of these beautiful people/characters.

I made it Valentine's pretty ^_^

I made it Valentine’s pretty ^_^

I would be insane not to look at Aidelle and Phillip, and, unsurprisingly, I have a lot to say! Theirs is one of the most interesting relationships in my writing – not least because the existence and ‘fates’ of certain other characters hinges on their being together. It’s also one of the more successful relationships, at least in relative terms. Oh, and FYI, since the trilogy has a lot of timey-wimey, I’ll be looking at their relationship at the time of the beginning of WTCB, aka August 2010, the first…

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  1. How long have they been a couple?

About a year. I’m sure The Almanac has the exact date they met and were obliged to be a couple, but I don’t know exactly, except that they have been engaged for a year.

  1. How did they first meet?

Through The Continent’s arranged marriage system: Phillip had to choose a wife to appease his parents from a Selection of ten women; Aidelle agreed to have her name put forward, so her mother would get off her back. She had no idea Phillip would actually go for the least socialite-y of the girls. Luckily, it worked out for them. (Thus far.)

  1. What were their first thoughts of each other? (Love at first sight or “you’re freakishly annoying”?)

Hum, well, it wasn’t love at first sight and neither of them wanted to meet, so there was some tension there, but they certainly had a dash of chemistry, and were intellectually compatible – ironically, by the fact that neither of them wanted to be there.

  1. What do they do that most annoys each other?

Aidelle hates that Phillip doesn’t raise his voice when he gets angry. She doesn’t like that he keeps things from her, acting aloof and the like, even if for her own sake. Phillip loves Aidelle very much, but he can be annoyed by the way she always complains about her siblings and his. They don’t much yet have habits that really irk each other.

  1. Are their personalities opposite or similar?

More complementary than similar. Whilst they share the same views about life, such as that the war is bad, Aidelle runs on tempers to Phillip’s logical contemplation. He is thoughtful, though they are similarly emotion- and action-focused to trouble. However, Phillip has known that his fury can hurt, and has changed his actions to make the world a better place. Maybe Aidelle will learn from losing her temper than she needs to regulate her mood better.

  1. How would their lives be different without each other?

Oh, this question… You must’ve read my novel! :P Whilst if she’d never met Phillip, Aidelle would still be the youngest, frumpiest third daughter of failing parents, Phillip would always have had to choose a woman to marry, lest he face the wrath and pressure of his father’s inheritance. He probably would never have been attracted to her, and who knows if he would have ever wanted a family? His entire future would have been completely different if he had not chosen Aidelle. Perhaps, that’s why I find Phillip a more interesting character to write.

  1. Are they ever embarrassed of each other?

I think Phillip probably feels rather shy of Aidelle when she interacts with the papers and possibly with his family. On the other hand, they tend to be quite open with each other; because they have similar ideas and strict unspoken relationship norms, they don’t tend to be embarrassed by each other.

  1. Does anyone disapprove of their relationship?

All of the people. *cough* Well, Aidelle’s family approve of the relationship, because it’s a socioeconomic step up for her, orchestrated by her mother (and possibly manipulated by Aidelle’s uncle who was once the hired painter for Phillip’s parents, but the jury’s out on that one); but Phillip’s parents, once he had selected Aidelle, started having second thoughts about whether she is the best woman to be a Costello wife. We’re not sure who started the rumours against Aidelle’s anti-societism and how flawed and failing her poor parents are. And then there are the socialites with deep jealousy who despise and bully Aidelle whenever she is in the centre of the continent. Perhaps they think if they insult her enough, she will relinquish Phillip and let him marry one of them instead.

And then there’s his brother Rion, who just hates the general idea of marrying women. I wonder why… ;)

  1. Do they see their relationship as long-term/leading to marriage?

They are engaged! *drinks celebratory wine* In fact, they are due to marry a month after the novel starts, so, yeah, they want their happily ever after.

  1. If they could plan the “perfect outing” together, where would they go?

I could see them going for a walk around the lake where they met. They’d take a picnic into the bandstand, then later find a nice quiet spot in the woods. ;) Both Phillip and Aidelle, whilst not being athletic, enjoy exploring nature and hiking, though Aidelle would probably start complaining that her feet are hurting after a while. She doesn’t have the best of shoes for serious hiking.

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That’s it from me for now. I could talk about Aidelle and Phillip’s relationship for ages, going through every little detail of the past, present, future— but that’s what the Almanac is for, not me. Check out the rest of the Beautiful People for February tag. Following on from Cait’s question at the end of her post, I’ll say that I write fluffy romances with a hint of the tragic, of course, a smidgen forbidden by some, and occasionally a triangle if the characters feel like it.

What about you? Do you write romance? If so, what sort? Happy February!


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Photo of the Week: Learning Styles

You know how people see different elements of a single structure? ie. In a painting, a writer might see the story, whilst an artist might instead look to the brushstrokes and tones. It occurred to me as I was thinking about this phenomenon that it might be used to discern a child or youth’s a) best field of study, and, more importantly, b) learning style. The way students are taught in schools has been bemoaned before, but I’ll reiterate: not enough attention is given to the variety of learners and types of intelligence in children, particularly those in state (ie. government-run) schools, who are more likely to have come from a wider variety of socioeconomic backgrounds compared to students in independent/private schools.* Although, practically, it can be difficult for a teacher to provide every type of attentional and learning style in a class of 30-odd, there is certainly the advantage of varying teaching style beyond simply dictation. If one were to look at modern studies of learning styles in correlation to attention, one would find that even using PowerPoint and making a presentation cannot fully engage a child’s attention.

Certainly, from experience, the teachers and subjects I remember best were those where the staff catered for students as individual people to be respected, rather than simply obliging to teach these children as part of their job.

*In part due to the academic rigor and attention given to private school entrance exams, there are also more likely to be students with disabilities in state schools that make classical learning more difficult.

Why is that relevant to today?

Well, my photo of the week is of the gable that inspired these thoughts – on the top of the Wantage dining hall. What do you see? The first thing I notice is the way the stone border on the central gable almost ripples down the brickwork. There’s something about the smooth-then-square-then-smooth that fascinates me most about this photo and centrepiece. Gazing out of my window as I type, I can see that similar shapes are used over the doorways into each block. I’m not sure exactly what that says about me, but it’s a writer’s job to have their characters pick out certain details that others would not.

AlexB_Gable


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7 Quick Takes about Room Touring, Cooking, and Fancy Quoting

Welcome to the New Year, and, of course, the start of this year’s 7 Quick Takes. Join Catholic bloggers around the world as we sum up our weeks. Hosted by This Ain’t the Lyceum. (Look at the shiny new logo… *strokes logo*)

seven quick takes friday 2

#1. I’m back in Reading, and that’s exciting, even though nothing much has happened – and I’ve only got the academic term to look forward to.

#2. Dancing! Swing band Ding Dong Daddios played some great tunes live last night, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s dancing, the biggest in the Reading area for a while. I am blessed to be a part of it, as small as I am.

#3. I’ve been doing some cooking and trying to sample more unusual dishes. I’m looking forward to working on things I’ve not tried before, from easy dishes to slightly more complicated ones. And eating them straight, though I won’t have the money to eat out for ages yet.

#4. I kind of almost redecorated my room. Or, rather, I stuck my tongue out at the fact I have no space, and managed to re-sort with re-thought. The power of thought! Blogger/Vlogger Irish American Sword invited me to vlog a room tour, so, apart from writing this, panicking that I’ve not sent a Beta my next chapters, and editing another vlog –urg– I’ll be filming that today.

#5. Speaking of which, do you remember me saying that I finished the second draft of Horology? Woop. *party poppers* Actually, it’s pretty sucky, but I’m happy enough to send it to my dear Alpha, who’s been waiting at least a month for it.

#6. No new writing this week, or the previous weeks, as I have been editing. I can’t say I have a favourite part of the draft, but there are a couple of nice lines, I guess. I don’t do humour well, so I try what I may.

#7. I like the mysterious elements in some of the chapters, though:

Horologyquote1


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All about 2014

I suppose 2014 was one of the strangest years I’ve had for a long while. After all, I entered it as a bushy-eyed eighteen-year-old starting the second term of my Psychology and Philosophy degree. And I seem to have finished it high in optimism and wisdom, but not so greatly in success. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve given up on writing by living in the moment.

AlexB_Bookcase4

It’s true – this shelf of the bookcase probably hasn’t changed since I was younger, but I know the other bookcases have evolved.

 

So the reading… Thinking about it, I read more books than it seems to me at first glance, particularly in the summer. I was sent swooning with Leah Raeder’s Unteachable. I got my friend Yawatta Hosby’s One By One free and speedily read the horror/thriller. I found a new favourite mystery author in the late Kyril Bonfiglioli. I finished the last Skulduggery Pleasant book a week before Christmas and still find myself nodding at the conclusion to the bestselling series. Vicious by VE Schwab chilled and thrilled me and set me eagerly anticipated A Darker Shade of Magic, Schwab’s next book for adults. I cracked through two-and-half steampunk books: Soulless, The Iron Wyrm Affair, and I’m currently reading the wonderful Cindy Spencer Pape’s Steam and Sorcery. I hurtled my way through Aiyana Jackson‘s novella Encante.

I was also lucky enough to interview Cindy, which started off my Steampunk Spotlight for steampunk and alt-history fantasy authors on the blog. Apart from a couple of ‘paint jobs’, this was the only major addition to the blog – well, that and my WIP page, which keeps track of the novels I’m writing. Like, the big ones I know I’m going to finish, even if I never edit the blasted things.

I was one of the many Steampunks – or Victoriana-dressed people from around the world, to attend the Lincoln Asylum VI, the largest solely Steampunk convivial in Europe, run by UK’s own Victorian Steampunk Society.

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The area between the Cathedral and the Castle in Lincoln City

 

Compared to some years, I have not written as much, in terms of quantity. Last year, I was rattling off all the novels and short stories, but this year has been one with more dips and curves than I expected. I started the year thinking about what might have happened after my short story in the Fauxpocalypse anthology, which came out in print mid-January.

In February through June, I wrote very little but focused on my editing, of mostly WTCB, but also OJAP, the YA murder mystery I first wrote when I was a youth.

I completed NaNo in July, and came out with my most impressive NaNo yet, at 73K. I’m currently adding bits to the Steampunk novel, Horology, before I send it to my Alpha reader and it’s definitely going to hit its 80K target.

In August, I made the mistake of swapping back to contemporary after a long stint of SFF writing, and started writing an NA contemporary romance set in a fictional uni. My writings from then on to the rest of year – before my academia took me away from being able to actually scribe things down at all – were thus centred, though I did have another attempt (in vain) of rewriting a short psychological horror about a lady who encounters some graffiti that may or may not be destined to cause her death.

I also started querying WTCB properly this year. How’s it going? I honestly couldn’t tell you. However, I did get into the agent round of Pitch Slam, and, boosted by that, I posted the premise of WTCB in gifs. It was fun. It has Sherlock, The Doctor, and Jack Sparrow.

When the clock broke…

 

Emotionally, I had a lot of big events this year, too. In February, for instance, I dyed my hair red to raise money (£120 to be exact of the final total) for the British Heart Foundation. I had red hair for a good three months before it completely washed out. Oh, how I missed my golden curls in the end.

Whilst finishing my first year at university was stressful enough, one of my good friends moved away. I lost my position as Social Secretary on the Quidditch team, but gained the role of Treasurer for the Swing Dance Society – and, for a while was even playing Secretary and President when my friends and colleagues where away. Around the same time, I got confirmed into the Catholic Church, and finally managed to put my trust in God.

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I started to illustrate quotes from my books with photos I’d taken.

 

Oh, and this happened:

Chralex3

I hope you had a good 2014 and a Merry Christmas. Happy New Year for tomorrow and may your 2015 be full of wonders, too.


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Ten Episodes of New Who I’d Like to Rewatch

I’ve been watching a lot of Doctor Who clips on YouTube recently. Not of this year’s, or even last year’s, episodes, but of the ‘old’ New Whos. Makes me a little nostalgic. But then it occurred to me how many I know very little actually of – you could give me a name, and I could guess, but I’d not have half the plot from the top of my head.

So, I put a little thought together and created my top ten (in ascending order) of New Who episodes I want to watch again.

Of course, I’m omitting my favourite episodes, which I’d rewatch without saying – such as The Unicorn and the Wasp or Blink or Turn Left; these mentioned are episodes that I dismissed on first encountering them, but am tempted to give a second chance, going by concept and hook. I’m using criteria of curiosity, stickability, and general possibly-good plot, and most are Eleven episodes, as those are the ones that haven’t stuck in my mind and I could do with going back simply to remember how I experienced them at the beginning.

Oddly, episodes like The Crimson Horror or Deep Breath don’t feature, possibly because I don’t feel I need to watch them again to appreciate them. So, whilst some episodes aren’t here because I didn’t like them, others are missing because I did like them. Somewhat.

And, yes, I’ve counted two-parters as one episode here. Those are noted, but having two parts changes nothing about the way I experience them.

Stick around, Pond.

  1. Victory of the Daleks

Don’t shoot me! It was a poor episode, and it barely makes it onto the list anyway, but these historical figure episodes slip from my mind (I remember Let’s Kill Hitler, but, boy, I wish I didn’t) as if the Silence were involved, and I’d like to revisit them to experience them again to re-experience the plots. Let’s face it, there have been worse.

  1. The Impossible Astronaut (two episodes)

Speaking of the Silence… I’m not actually sure what happened in this/these episode(s). I should expect to see tally marks on my arms soon. Uhh… But it was good, yeah? Also, River rather shines in this one, even if Amy is pretty weak and mopey. #OhAmy

  1. The Girl Who Waited

For #8, I had to go through the list of episodes to encounter ones that I remember going “ooh, that was pretty cool” but have actually all but forgotten now. Out of several, I settled on The Girl Who Waited, because of the use of dual timelines that so reminds me of my own novel. From as much as I can remember, it has plagues, sterile white rooms, and is Doctor-lite. I do have a fondness for Doctor-lite episodes, which is bizarre, seeing as I’m watching a programme about the time-travelling alien.

  1. The Big Bang 2 (two episodes)

I know more of this plot than I would were it not my favourite Chameleon Circuit song, but it still leaves me perplexed. What actually happened? Why is Mini!Pond involved? How did all of The Doctor’s enemies managed to gang up on him? It wasn’t a great episode, but it’s one that I’d watch again to understand what was quite a clever plot, in terms of complexity.

  1. The Time of Angels (two episodes)

There aren’t many Amy episodes that I actually like, but this one was rather clever. The Weeping Angels were great in Blink, so it was nice to see them return here (even if they became overdone in The Angels Take Manhattan). But this episode, I believe, introduced the concept of the angels taking possession of one’s body through gaze, which I thought was an interesting addition to bring the plot forward.

  1. Nightmare in Silver

I remember thinking this one was pretty good when I first watched it – it’s built mostly on characters, but the setting was pretty nifty, too. Another one I can’t remember much about, but the clips I’ve been seeing on YouTube – Mr. Clever and their interaction inside The Doctor’s head – make me want to watch it again.

  1. The Rebel Flesh (two episodes)

I kept missing the beginning of this one whenever it was on TV, so I always get confused at The Doctor’s “I wanted to check out the signal to the flesh“ at the end and the whole Amy-has-been-a-ganger storyline, which I don’t know was ever explained properly in the series. In addition, I liked the whole consideration of ethics and whether the Gangers were people. They’re pretty creepy monsters, too.

  1. The Christmas Invasion

I could always rewatch this one, but it’s never made it into my favourites. The dialogue is great, and, despite not being conscious for most of the episode, Ten’s experiences provides a spark of colour and excitement that no one else could. Yet, the Tylers and Mickey give credit to humankind – whilst Harriet Jones shows her darker side of power. This episode is fun, but it has touches of morality that a lot of Eleven and Twelve’s episodes have had.

  1. Rose

Don’t you just want to go back to the beginning? There are so many feels in this episode, but there is also a great storyline, character— and a light-heartedness that I feel we lost in Eleven’s puppy moments. Plus, Rose comes into her own right away – she doesn’t think much of herself, but still manages to help The Doctor with the skills she has.

  1. New Earth

I saw a clip of this on YouTube and it triggered that I didn’t know much of the plot, despite knowing I’d liked that episode when I first saw it. I’d forgotten how much I liked this episode – the classic Ten-and-Rose days. There are so many great one-liners, especially from Cassandra in Rose’s body, and the acting is, again, so much fun. How could you not like New Earth? :D

Tell me, are there any episodes with which you’d go through that first-time experience again?


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DOCTOR WHO Series Eight Review: “Mummy On The Orient Express” (Co-written With Alexandrina Brant @ Miss Alexandrina)

Alexandrina Brant:

As promised, a reblog of Engie’s official post of Mummy on the Orient Express review #2. It’s pretty overview-y, but we quote a few things and watch a few things, and, as usual, I say a lot. Enjoy. ;)

Originally posted on Musings From Neville's Navel:

Good evening! I’m a lizard woman from the dawn of time and this is my wife and I’m* reviewing the latest episode of Doctor Who, “Mummy on the Orient Express,” with Alexandrina Brant from Miss Alexandrina. She’s a pretty cool blogger and we have more than a few interests in common, including books, photography, and Quidditch!

*SORRY NOT SORRY. I saw my chance and I took it, all right?

P.S. You can find previous collaborative reviews of Doctor Who‘s eighth series here.

-~-

Alexandrina Brant is a second-year psychology and philosophy student at Reading University, England, which means she alternates between planning experiments and critiquing history. When not polishing her fantasy romance novel about time travel, she’s cosplaying steampunk, singing, and playing Quidditch for the university team. She has authority in writing this review because she’s River Song’s doppelganger, hair and all. You can catch her blogging at Miss Alexandrina

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