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.

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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.

Quick Takes: Truth Tables, Fantastic Magic, and SPG Hit

Seven Quick Takes is hosted by This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

As we near advent now, it is time to reevaluate our goals and our behaviour, and orient ourselves towards the Lord and His genesis into human life. Christmas is such a pivotal time for Christians because of the birth of Christ.

~2~

This song by Steam Powered Giraffe has been going through my head, the life-affirming self gratifying song about owning one’s issues:

~3~

I’m trundling along in the university term now. At the time of writing, I’ve just finished week 7 out of 10, which means that we’re both winding down in ideas and digging deeper. On most classes, we know enough now to start exploring the topics beyond the weekly reading.

~4~

In Semantics today, we discuss the inclusive and exclusive ‘or’. That is to say, differences in the use of ‘or’ in sentences such as ‘tea or coffee?’ and ‘milk or sugar?’. At first glance, you wouldn’t think of how ambiguous English is, but, actually, there are so many things that ESL speakers her wrong because they aren’t used to English intuition.

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~5~

I’m going to see Fantastic Beasts tonight. I’m excited to see it, as there is no book as a basis. I was never much of a Potterhead, though the films started my reading career when I was younger, but I am looking forward to seeing how the worldbuilding has evolved since its 2-dimensional start in Philosopher’s Stone to the nature of being a witch or wizard in the roaring 20s.

~6~

Editing has been rather good this week, thanks be to God! I’ve been making headway rewriting chapters 15 and 16, including things that whether Cathy is a klutz or not, and her slight obsession with the furnace exploding.

The extract below is such a new addition, heightening Cathy’s distrust of Petite Victoria.

~7~

Cathy simply stared. By dint of habit, she listened to the whole utterance before drawing conclusions. The science of listening and interpreting.

“I saw it, let us say, in your eyes the moment you stepped up to my plinth. Not only because you listened and spoke to my people, but do-gooders all look the same. Expressive, bleeding-heart eyes, always reaching onto tiptoes to reach for the next astral body.”

She didn’t stretch. Cathy bit her tongue. Arguing back would do her no good. The woman guided a hand through Cathy’s elbow, and the force of it dragged her along the path.

 

NaNo No

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It won’t have escaped your notice that it’s November and the writing community, Twitter, blogs, Facebook even, are abuzz with tales of National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo).

Now, I am no stranger to NaNo; my favourite of my novels was born during NaNo in 2010 when I was 15, where I won NaNo, but then spent an additional three months trying to end the 50,000 words into 80,000.

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<It might partly have been to do with the fact that I handwrote the entire first draft, and so spent a deal of my time after November copying it onto Word.>

Later that year, I presented for my English Language GCSE on NaNo and my teacher and I were pleased with my resulting mark.

After that, my other forays into NaNo were in July, as I had entered a state of education where I could not afford to spend my November with a head of scenes and characters. In fact, there is indeed a version of NaNoWriMo called CampNaNo. It is essentially the same set up, though writers are encouraged to produce their own wordcount goals. Even so, I stuck to 50,000, as that was NaNo to me.

In 2013, I spent the two weeks I was volunteering in Uganda handwriting in a sandy notebook the sequel of the novel written for my first NaNo. But it felt disjointed, and, though again I completed NaNo’s wordcount goal, I was left with a lot more to type up of a novel that I didn’t love. The characters were bland and the plot felt samey, and, although this was a character’s side I needed to tell, I wasn’t invested in her as I had been my other heroine.

For those of you who know them: I still found Zara a whiny teenager as I had in Aidelle’s story. Although Aidelle was blunt, she at least had class. Literally.

The next time I did NaNo was the following year, yes the July again, with the absence of a notebook and a new plot on my mind. It was my first year as an undergraduate student, and I was free from exams, at least for where it mattered in July. I had already scrabbled at some ideas for short stories, but none were forming as I’d hoped, and coming to birth as knowing I was a Steampunk (and it was that aesthetic that the past two NaNo novels had tried to emulate), I was really beginning to grow a new idea in my head. One of true dirigibles and Vesuvian tribes and a linguist hunting for her beloved. Perhaps it sounds familiar…

I left her for at least a year, I did, and I kept leaving her. But I have been making slow progress through the third draft of H and editing updates continue (see the main photo above).

I haven’t done NaNo since then, though not for want of trying. As it is with my literary status (minor published, unagented, student), I’m not sure I want to spend my time on new ideas, particularly as writing a larger novel in general hasn’t been coming to me, when I ought to be editing, polishing, and submitting what I already have.

Well, I have written rather a lot – it’s funny to think how much I am still affected by those novels I have not worked on for a bit. I did mention they were dear to me. However, I have yet to talk about NaNo as it stands this year, the original topic of this blog, and it’s getting late. Look out for part two tomorrow, where I consider how I can utilise National Novel Writing Month this year.

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It’s been a while since I’ve worked on either of those favourite novels, but you can still read about the Time, Stopped trilogy over on my Novels page of this blog. 🙂

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.)

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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.

5 Senses

Taking inspiration from NevilleGirl’s post, of the 5 different senses in writing. Whereas she listed examples of senses to use in writing, I thought I’d challenge myself further by writing a little piece of description for each that could be relevant in my novel.

Smell

In amongst the soft chugging of steam from the device’s motor, the smell clouded the air. Faint at first, but only more pungent the more she angled her head upward, the steam clouded the air with a metallic stink. She stifled a cough (as much as she was able in the headrest), and concentrated on the basement’s usual odour of rotted wood and fresh copper wire. It was not much better, but it was better at least.

Taste

She sunk her front teeth into the wad of fabric, and very nearly heaved. She would’ve spat it out if she’d been able. It tasted like damp straw and the back of a fireplace.

Touch

Against her bare skin, the crushed velvet soothed like a bandage with extra padding—another gash zigzagged from her right elbow to an inch from her wrist-bone—and that was not the only surprising element to the rented outfit.

Sound

In the air, everything was muted, or muffled as if the world above the clouds blanketed the world below. Or both silenced the other. Amelia’s boots scuffed along the deck as she moved back and forth, map tight in her fist; a whoosh of air skimmed the bow from front to back as if trying to shush Cathy’s thoughts; and even the wheel squeaked little as The Cloud-Chaser’s faithful captain ploughed her through the dense atmosphere.

Sight

Cathy gazed over the plateau, shivering a little, despite the midday heat that curled off the building structures below her. In this hamlet, where the tribespeople worked like ruthless cattle and their ‘Queen’ was no better, a figure was conspicuously absent, no matter how far Cathy strolled.

A certain man with pince nez halfway down his nose and a stack of papers tucked in his arms.

Alexander had not crashed in Italia.

~

And, on that note, thanks for reading! Feel free to continue the 5 Sense tag in whatever way you think will help your fab writing!

Beautiful People: H’s Cathy

*gasp* What is this, an actual Beautiful People post on my blog in 2016? I know, I’ve been as lax in keeping up with the writing tag as a printer sans ink, partly because I’ve not tackled any new big novels for a while and instead have been trying to focus on the importance of editing. But since I’m working on it at the moment, about two years from its conclusion, I thought we’d revisit my Steampunk novel H, a tale of ghosts, Italian tribes, and dirigibles.

what is beautiful peple about

Beautiful People is a monthly segment focusing on the fictional people of our novels with the intent of uncovering their little tidbits that although may not come into fruition or play in the novel, round the character into more than a paper cutout. It is hosted by Cait at Paper Fury and Sky from Further Up and Further In.

So, let me once again, introduce you to the lovely, yet audacious, Miss Cathleen Cattoway, betrothed to Squire Alexander Sterling. Or so she hopes…

PAPERFURY

  1. How did you come up with this character?

Horology - CathleenLike most of my character creation, I don’t recall coming up with Cathleen Cattoway specifically. I know I wanted a female main character to look through, someone with brown hair and eyes as a template for her appearance. Confident and not docile to the sexism of the day, but not someone who liked mechanics. Her name was something of a pick-out-the-hat, as I tend to do. It stuck, thank goodness.

  1. Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast?

Totally boring here, but no. She’s had to be self-sufficient, and she has been hungry, sure, but never starving.

  1. Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of?

Linguistics. That is, the study of language structure. Cathy’s particular speciality comes from translating Latin and Greek, and so she is fascinated by how different languages use different syntax to create different meaning. This also helps her pick out when people are not being so truthful—as she is more likely to hear the false way they are using language.

4. List 3 things that would make them lose their temper.

People thinking she has to need help.

People stopping her from reaching her potential or helping others.

Liars, because she can read them more easily than most.

5. What is their favourite type of weather? Least favourite?

Does nighttime count as a weather? I guess that’s cheating. 😛 Cathy’s favourite time of weather would be blue skies, though not too hot. Her least favourite? Thunderstorm rain.

  1. What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality?

I went with Hogwarts house because, although I’ve done numerous Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator tests and read loads on my own type (INFJ here 😀 ), I’ve not had the time to read that much into other types. Since INFJ’s are the rarest, even if my characters do share my attributes and interests, I don’t think if they were to do the test, they would come out so.

I’d say Cathy’s a Ravenclaw. She’s not brave enough for a Gryffindor, is too frank to be a Hufflepuff, and honestly, I see very few traits of hers as Slytherin-y. She aspires to not aspire.

  1. Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future?

Well, Cathy would consider the two irreparably linked – her present problems are the small cogs in the machine of the unknown future; if there are present issues, that means that the future is not going to be set out the way she would like it to be.

  1. What is their favourite drink?

Your average Google stock photo

Tea. Definitely. Just your average India Leaf tea, though she was recently introduced to lemon Green tea, and she rather liked it.

  1. What is their favourite colour? Least favourite?

Her favourite colour is a rich maroon or burgundy. She likes the rich reds that can be transformed to taffeta fabrics. Her least favourite colour…I’d say that would be black, simply because it lacks texture and the potential to see other colours through it.

  1. What is a book that changed their life?

Wow. Now that’s a loaded question. I mean, I don’t have a favourite book, and – as Cait herself would say – I am a feelingless Vulcan, whose life has very rarely been changed by a single book, so I don’t know where to start with Cathy. What springs to mind would be the first book she translated: a series of poems in elegiac couplets by Catullus, one of a group of Roman writers known as the ‘new poets’. She would’ve been inspired by the way the poetry is clever and full of imagery – yet, also is poetic in the sense that it does not stick to the poetic boundaries English is forced to.

What about you? Are you in the deep depths of editing at the moment, or have you just started making a new book baby? Let’s chat 😀

Currently, on a Wednesday

The currently posts are meant to be on Tuesdays (or at least author Katy Upperman does it on Tuesdays, from whom I got the idea), and I fully tried to post it yesterday, but I’ve had so much catching up to do now I can’t do it until after 8pm that my work on it during the day turned into only half a post. And I didn’t even think of WordPress. #mylife #howdotheydoit?

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Loving…

Interacting with young ones in my new job. Their vitality and enthusiasm is so rewarding.

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Reading…

HOUR OF MISCHIEF by Aimee Hyndman. It’s a YA Fantasy/Steampunk with rich setting and relatable characters.

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Writing…

I was working on edits for Horology, but I’ve neurotically changed gears again, and have returned to WTCB with new ideas.

Watching…

Old Miss Marple episodes. I do missing having a daily or even weekly murder mystery hit to watch as I write and relax in the evenings.

Listening to…

Steam Powered Giraffe’s third studio album MK3. With the hour+ travel to work and back, I’ve been using my phone as my MP3 player again – complete with the music I listened to three+ years ago. As a consequence, I’ve not listened to my favourite band for a while, and, having been through their fourth album, space opera Vice Quadrant, multiple times, I’ve rather forgotten the joy of many of the songs in pop 50s-focused album MK3.

I’m just going to be mean and insert the teaser for Vice Quadrant, which will have you humming that fragment of Progress and Technology for hours until you go out and buy the song. 😉

Anticipating…

Moving out of the house I’ve lived in the last year for my third year of uni, which I’ll be doing in two weeks. I’m the last housemate around (And currently typing this in the space of my kitchen.), which means I’ve got a tonne of housework to be doing at some point in between working and doing much-needed (to keep my mental health stable) rewriting. I plan to work on the big bathroom this afternoon.

Wishing…

To get back into my writing mode. I have been wanting to keep pressing on with my editing for a while, and it just hasn’t happened.

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What have you been up to? Did you post a Currently… post this Tuesday?