7QT: Twas the Week Before Christmas…

…And not much was stirring. That’s the problem with being on break from the usual routine; one loses the rhythm that once inspired blogging. 7 Quick Takes Friday is hosted by This Ain’t the Lyceum.

~1~

Well, it was my partner’s birthday on Sunday. A week before Christmas, poor lad, but at least we got to celebrate with a relaxing time at home after Mass, and then went for a meal with his dad and siblings.

~2~

The remainder of the days I spent with him consisted of the usual if one’s usual is playing video games (Lego Dimensions, Slime Rancher) 😉 and reading. I hate to admit it, but the holiday is, in some cases, for relaxing – even when I would honestly rather be working.

~3~

I’ve also been working on my assignments for January – a four-part Phonetics assignment which in each of its parts uses the Praat acoustic phonetic programme.

Image result for praat software

An example of a spectrogram one can analyse in Praat.

~4~

Of course, though, the persistent winter cold has returned with a vengeance – and I can only hope that any form of ‘refreshers’’ (meaning the second term of new-to-uni activities) flu will be short lived if lived at all. I have had rather enough of being illed. It gets in the way of my studies, my games, and my mind, like a fog across the frontal lobe, infecting every inch of my spirit until it is no more than a mush.

~5~

I look forward to when the Christmas kerfluffle is out of the way and we can all just get back to the winter as it was without the needless commercialism. Even the togetherness can be stifling, can it not? Some of us are not used to it.

~6~

Editing has been slow – big surprise there, eh? 😛 – though rewriting has been somewhat of a success. I finally finished chapter and ramped up the tension and, most importantly, the plot. The extract below follows Cathy and Petite Victoria as they argue over the bartering of freedom for the crew.

~7~

So, this was it. This was Victoria’s deal?

“So you planned to steal me away from my comrades to keep me captive from them?” She was surprised how calm her voice sounded. “What next, push me off a cliff?”

“I offer you asylum,” Victoria said simply.

“Asylum from what exactly?”

She spread her hands wide. The bands of heat above the plateau rippled in response. In front of them, the sea thrashed against the rocks like the orchestra pit of a play-house; behind them, a wasteland trawled until it hit the settlement, the only signs of life and survival for miles.

“Without my help, your crew have no way home.” She paused, and Cathy heard all the meaning in her silence. “Unless they plan to walk to Roma with no food or water.”

She was right, damn all heavens!

“Unless you plan to sacrifice them and their little guild for your own freedom.”

“So, you use me as the bartering chip,” muttered Cathy.

7 Quick Takes: Of Work and Play

It’s Friday, which means it’s that time again for 7 Quick Takes, hosted over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

This week has been a hectic one. I suppose it started as it meant to go on. Non-UK people probably didn’t hear, but I bet if you live in the south of England, you would’ve heard about the extensive South Midlands train line closures, resulting in there being only one direct route in and out of central London. I was meant to be on the way back from The Fiance’s in Leeds, aiming to be home by 10pm, with my train pulling in at 9.30.

As it was, I went via Sheffield and that train too was slow, and arrived into St Pancras at 11.45pm. Luckily, taking the tube (<3 London) meant I was definitely home at quarter past midnight.

But still later than I would have preferred.

~2~

Too, I’ve been out of the house most days. I’m almost midway through the Michaelmas term now and that means that I have been trying to keep up with my experimental participation credits. If I can get 5 this term, the pressure will be off me a little next term.

~3~

Then again, there’s the Phonetics. A graded test every week. I don’t object to it, but it a concentrated amount of revision that can/could be problematic. Revision is great for the memory, but our consolidation is somewhat hindered by being thrown new stuff on top of what we are still trying to fully encode in long-term memory. It is the level of study I expect, though. (I pity the first years that they have to do it.)

Image result for ipa

English pulmonic word examples.

~4~

And then there’s syntax.

Which every week involves reading. I am forever thankful I have a day off, otherwise I do not know what I would do in terms of the work-leisure balance.

~5~

Nevertheless, I have God to thank for keeping me on top of things. Often, I wonder where I would be without Him (well: nowhere). There’s just enough of all the elements in my life to keep me pootling along in somewhat good health. Besides, I am constantly thankful that I am where I am now.

~6~

You can imagine, too, that there has been little to no recent editing. Cathy’s finally on her way to the continent (not to be confused with The Continent).

~7~

Head down and slanted to the right, Jonathon’s blue eyes focused, mouth raw but shapely… His voice drowned in a whisper that Cathy had not the time, nor the expertise, to lip-read. A slice of steel spun from his fingers and latched itself onto the dockhand’s shirt-sleeve. It balanced there for a moment before the three of them realised that it had no made an incision.

Yet.

“You, sir, are mistaken,” murmured Jonathon.

“I really do think—”

“No, you will listen to me.” He was deathly quiet. “You have no idea what you are dealing with.

That’s all for now! Have a good weekend.

7 Quick Takes: A Recap of the Vanished

I know I’ve been absent from 7 Quick Takes Friday for a while now. Some of it has been out of my control – moving and all that jazz – but some of it, I must admit, has been laziness on my part. So, of all the things, this is a Friday catch-up, I suppose.

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

Oh, September, how you are a tricksy month, particularly for someone like me who took a rather distended break from blogging and writing et al, and whose mind now is struggling to settle back into routine.

~2~

I think I will relish returning to the normal routine of student work getting in the way of writing work, though. Giving myself a reason to get out of bed will surely aid my brain into inspiration during the day.

~3~

Speaking of which, that’s coming up soon. I get enrolled soon, and then lectures after that, though it still feels like a lifetime away. I know it will pass so quickly; and part of me wishes so, whilst the other is perfectly happy to freeze time in the here and now.

~4~

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What am I reading? Oh, wow, what a question, since, if one goes by my Kindle app, I am reading quite a number of things at once. For my own amusement, I recently stumbled back into reading THE SECRETS OF GHOSTS by Sarah Painter and published by Carina, a small press that has impressed (!) me with its selections of titles and way with voices.

~5~

Image result for heart of brassThere are a few books I’m reading for writing style inspiration:

THE DARK DAYS CLUB by Alison Goodman; HEART OF BRASS by Kate Cross; A GATHERING OF SHADOWS by VE Schwab.

A theme, right? Well, I have to read up in my fields. 🙂

~6~

On the writing front, I’m slowly rewriting my novel H, a historical fantasy that floats about from New York to Italy. Here, our plucky young heroine, Cathleen ‘Cathy’ Cattoway, returns to New York in the dead of night to question the man who last saw her betrothed.

~7~

When they docked unceremoniously in New York—Cathy’s boots slid her across the moisture-sleeked deck like untethered weights—the morning hung dark and heavy over Ellis Island, mist-less yet crammed with whispers of forbidden conversations out of their reach. Even the residue of last night’s Passing made Cathy’s hair stand on end. Out here the air was a mixture of gaslight fumes, the smell of bitterly cold air, and fouler scents, too…

What Are you Writing? Sunday Fiction

A day late, but I wanted to participate in Vanessa Rodriguez’s Sunday Fiction Post-Up where writers share extracts of their WIP or latest works. After an exhausting weekend, I’m back home and I get some time to myself again. This extract is from my contemporary romance short, ‘SoS’, which I finished the first draft of today. This is from page 25, paragraph two.

I looked up. Cheeks in royal red tried a smile back.

“You’re not…embarrassed, are you?” I asked.

He jolted, and the notebook snapped shut. For a second, I wondered what he thought was important enough to be writing now, yet private enough that he thought I’d be spying over the miles of interstellar space.

Wow.

“It’s alright!” I raised one hand. As if I had anything to be defensive over.

But the tension was there. I’d already overstepped the mark and my cheeks burnt. Trust me. Trust me to eff the norm up again! I winced. I had a nice thing going – I happened to, as weird as it was, like interrupting my quiet Thursday evenings off to receive a Skype from across the oceans… Even the terminology sounded dreamy, as if the solid masses of water weren’t a barrier, but a wave and path leading us together.

7 Quick Takes – The World Continues Turning

I may be a day late for the Friday Quick Takes, but I thought I ought to add something in this blog of a weekly writing update around the reblogs and photos of the week I’ve been placing down.

~1~

Wow, what a week it’s been. Hard to believe that this time last week I was in Lincoln for the big annual Steampunk festival and Lady Chronaire was cosplay Upgrade from Steam Powered Giraffe for the Saturday occasions. I had a lot of fun, though there were so many things I missed. The intimate problem with large conventions.

At the Empire Ball on the Sunday evening

At the Empire Ball on the Sunday evening

~2~

In my headspace at the moment, I don’t know, realistically, if I’ll be able to write a summary of this year’s Lincoln Asylum – particularly as there were more days than last year – but I had a lot of fun and did a lot of things. Seriously, I think I am still trying to declutter my head after all the events and talks.

Ooh, can I keep him? ^_^ <3 (Th Boyfriend dressed for the Empire Ball)

Ooh, can I keep him? ^_^ ❤
(Th Boyfriend dressed for the Empire Ball)

~3~

I think part of what has inspired me to keep writing, to press on, and to hope more than ever, were the writing talks I went to in Lincoln. Three, in fact. I decided to skip the descriptive competition, as I did that last year and it would’ve taken the place of two hours on the timetable. Besides which, by Sunday, I was exhausted and socially overwhelmed that I don’t think I would’ve been able to do it.

My friend cosplaying as Rabbit from Steam Powered Giraffe

My friend cosplaying as Rabbit from Steam Powered Giraffe. Plus GG plush.

~4~

I met a bunch of fellow Steampunk writers in Lincoln [ie. the published ones] – Steve Turnbull, Ceri-Leigh Harper, Raven Dane, Rob Harkess, Sam Stone, and others that I’ve probably forgotten (which is my own fault for not taking copious amounts of photos that writers deserve, though I did pinch a few bookmarks ;)).

~5~

Writing. With September, I’m getting my working hat back on and finally getting back into the writing groove with Geeky Love. It’s already over wordcount and over the preferred length I would’ve had it, and there are still massive gaps between scenes that need to be connected and scenes written in dual POV that probably have no need of being. I have a lot of work to do before it’s ready.

~6~

In this extract, Kazia and Joel have to decide if they want to be a proper couple…

“Yup.” I grinned again, and pushed myself into a more upright position. “Joel, I was also thinking…well.”

“What?”

“Is this—are we…a thing? An i-item? Together?”

His deer-in-headlights silence was hardly comforting and not a pinch satisfying. Still, I leant back on my haunches, and waited. I’d learnt, through my pitiful years of dating, that it was the waiting that mattered.

~7~

It’s been difficult for me to blog lately. Not for want of time – or want of material, for I could get some if I wished – but it’s turning into a chore with negative connotations, and that’s not something I want. I don’t know if I will take an official from-blogging break, but I also cannot guarantee any sort of routine or frequency to my posts.

The lower-classes are out of hand!

Those lower-classes are out of hand!

Quick Takes Friday about Goals, Success, and Holidays

For this week’s Quick Takes, I’m still in Scotland, but only just. Check out the rest of the hop over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

seven quick takes friday 2

~1~

This week has been weird, in terms of weather. We had some almost torrential rain a couple of days – the kind of rain that is constant throughout the day.

However, today, for instance, we’ve had some beautiful sun, warm enough that I wore shorts for the first time this holiday!

~2~

sunlight_AlexB1

A shot, albeit rather fountainy, of the sunset over the beach from our window

I was fortunate enough to be treated to some spa time this week. A much-needed facial on the Weds and then a neck massage and some pool time last night. I’ve not been in a pool for ages, and I realised just how weak my lung capacity is now. Ironic, considering that I should have better lung capacity from my choral singing. Nevertheless, I’m just not used to pushing myself in the pool as I did when I was swimming competitively when in Primary school and when I did lifeguarding.

~3~

One of my summer/new academic term goals was to do more exercise/eat more healthily, and yesterday’s swimming reminded me of that. I’ve got a research project to work on still, but I’m looking forward to doing more exercise in the following weeks. Or at least more walking so that I actually get tired out.

~4~

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Dundrennan Abbey

Yesterday was another abbey ruin, which I love. This particularly one, at Dundrennan, was extensive, and included a graveyard with numerous graves, as well as having quite a bit still standing. I am blessed to have been able to go and see so many natural heritage sites and explore them.

~5~

Today we went to Culzean Castle and grounds, which were lovely, though we didn’t spend so much time there. No photos, unfortunately, due to the fragile nature of the house, but it was a lovely classical, Victorian house and it gave me loads more inspiration for the world-building of the Time, Stopped Trilogy, even though the abodes of the socialites and higher classes are less necessary for any novels I might self-publish in the distant future.

~6~

Writing. I’ve been gathering speed on my contemporary short story – we’ll call it Geeky Love for now, since none of the titles I’ve tried have stuck. Cait’s Beautiful People hop for this month was about friends, and I started thinking about those pairs of character friends I could use for the hop, since I’ve talked about most of my characters. I happened to think about the future of the hero and heroine in Geeky Love, and what defining features of theirs would influence their relationship. In addition, I’ve been realising more about both characters on their own – such as what degree my heroine is doing! This has helped me to be more encouraged towards writing this story, and I’ve been making progress.

~7~

In this fresh-off-the-press extract, Kazia and Joel meet for the first time…

A throat cleared behind me. The sound of somebody trying not to splutter with laughter to himself. I flushed, and peered over my shoulder.

The guy. The one I’d kind-of-but-not-really been staring at before.

“I’ve got it,” I stuttered, practically turning a shade between orange and pink better found on a colour-chart. I stretched, but my nails weren’t long enough to wiggle between the knot I’d wound.

“Oh, really?” questioned the man. He had a twang to his voice, a devious accent I couldn’t place, and hands fiddled with the clasp of my skirt. I flinched. Automatically. Because a guy was placing his hands on my coccyx.

“Chill. Your struggling isn’t going to undo you.”

I chilled. By, like, 50%.

A Writer’s Game

A fun writer’s game by H L Wampler – bringing writers together with their extracts. I think it’s a good idea, add your own!

H.L. Wampler

I love games. Who doesn’t? They keep occupied, take your mind away from whatever you’re thinking about, and I like using it to combat writers block. Which I experience a lot.

So lets play a game.

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