NaNo No


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.


<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.


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. 🙂

Thursday Think on the Romance Genre

But for some people, marriage and 2.3 children works towards this lasting relationship. It’s about relative feelings and situation – such that no relationship is like another. This post highlights that not all romance in novels has to end in marriage or commitment, though. You know – in life nowadays, there are so many different ways in and around monogamy, and it might be good to see more of those in popular fiction.


Like what I assume are millions of other people over the last few months, I came across E! Online’s article this am about the lovely Goldie Hawn, pulled from her Porter Magazine article in June, and one of the things she talks about is her ongoing 32 year relationship with Kurt Russell. If you don’t know much about them, they still aren’t married, which is actually kind of awesome and impressive, considering this is a Hollywood couple, where dating/marriage status never seems to stay the same for long. Even us normal(ish) folks can look at a relationship such as Hawn’s and Russell’s and find it inspiring. In this interview, Goldie says about relationships:


I’ve always loved Goldie Hawn, but as she ages (beyond gracefully and beautifully, may I point out) she continues to be not only a positive influence for other women in the acting industry, but all women…

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RSW! 29-6-15

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katy Upperman.


  1. How I did on last week’s goals.

Finish polishing WTCB and start query batch for June. Done.

Plan what I’m doing for CampNaNo July. Done. Will be working on a short contemporary romance story about geeks, and a steampunk novella about brains and MRI machines.

Critique chapter one of Critique Partner’s new novel. Nope. Hoping to do that today.

Do some exercise. I did some walking…?

  1. My goal(s) for this week.


Critique chapter one of Critique Partner’s new novel.

Do some exercise. Dance workout? Again, I’m moving into the new house, so I don’t know if I can fit anything in.

Start writing first draft for NaNo that starts Weds.

  1. A favourite line from my story or one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

The dirigible docked on the west side of the campus, where the humdrum of the studential-life had faded to a sullen whisper now most of its occupiers had abandoned the towers where they’d lived during general term.

  1. The biggest challenge I faced this week.

I’ve not been well, so I keep starting things, then abandoning them partway through because I don’t have the energy/bother for them. Three times I tried to finish a blog post, and it just didn’t happen. Right now I’m not in a happy writing place.

  1. Something I love about my WIP.

It’s Steampunk, so it allows me to get inspiration from my surroundings when I’m at events. I had ideas yesterday for some side characters who are going to aid the heroine in defeating the monster with their circus skills.

AlexB_owlFrankie4Like so.


Checking in with Alex

I’m still struggling to keep a schedule at the moment – and this week will be almost as hectic for me. I just wanted to make a quick post to detail what’s going on in my writing life at the moment.


This NeoVictorian world refuses to leave me alone, and I’m actually enjoying going back through it and polishing it. There’s the odd pitching event coming up that I might enter, but it really depends on the daylight hours I have. I’m finding it hard to write or edit in the evenings, as my mind has its tendency to wander.


I’ve put OJAP on hold, as my concentration lately has been on the fantastic, not the contemporary, though a flame still lingers in my heart that wants to work with mystery. In addition to the below, I’ve also had two novella ideas in process: one a contemporary about geeks in love; the other The Mallard: Cosmic Train. It’s slowly forming. If only other ideas wouldn’t get in the way…


I’ve started writing what I’ve tentatively called THE ACADEMIC, THE SERGEANT, AND THE BRAIN IN ROOM 303 (ASB303 for short), a Steampunk novella centred around a Frankenstein-esque incident in the Royal Berkshire University, Lady Summer Chronaire’s university. It’s set in a slightly different world to WTCB, in that it is pure Steampunk – set in the 1800s, rather than modern day. I just want to successfully write a couple of pieces shorter and worth less brain-space than a full novel

Here’s an extract:

“I can see what could be done. I could ask the crew – they’ll surely have someone willing to achieve some breaking and entering.”

“Don’t phrase it like that.”

The Sergeant sighed, kissing rings of smoke into the bedroom. “How else can I phrase it, my lady? You’re asking for a somebody to infiltrate a sealed building and rifle through forbidden files. There are certain things I cannot do.”

“You would if asked.” Though, now, the ideas in Summer’s mind involved less of understanding the ghastly situation, and more of having The Sergeant just where she liked him.

Then there’s the thousands of other ideas brewing around my brain, fighting for rule of place, most of which are Steampunk.

Anyway, that’s me out for the time-being.

Quick Takes about Guided Prayer, Farmyard Frolics, and a Rule of Life for Next Year

Oh, hi, Friday, come here often? Haha, the week has passed so quickly with the everything and nothing I’ve been doing.

seven quick takes friday 2


Guess what I’ve been doing this evening?


My Neuroscience revision is coming together for my exam next week, and that occasionally involves painting a silver squishy/stress ball brain with various colours to represent neurology pathways, such as the somatosensory cortex, the Fusiform Face Area (not shown), and the superior temporal sulcus.


Reading Uni has been running a Week of Guided Prayer this week, which has been a nice change. It involved half an hour of prayer a day I experienced a relaxing, calming pace of prayer and talked about women in the Gospels with my guide, where we both discovered more about the passages and people that we hadn’t realised through solo reading of the gospels. God also opened my eyes to the interplay between prayer and work; I can take half an hour out of my revision and my day, and yet I am still able to focus on my revision – more so at times!


It was the General Election in Britain this week. I did contemplate writing a post about it (in fact, how badly some of my friends had reacted to the news on social media rather upset and/or aroused my opinion), but, in the end, there is no point in complaining about people who are complaining, as that would make me as bad as them.

But we could have done worse than another Conservative government, and the result is no one’s fault (especially not the general public’s!), but a reflection of a plutocratic norm that has existed for centuries. I think that the only way to avoid a situation like this would be to convert back to a society of skill-and-gain exchange.


But back to happier things. This afternoon, as part of the Union’s relaxation/distressing regime to ease us from our exams, they brought in a selection of farmyard animals and cute pets for us to handle. I got to hold a bunny, guinea pig, and stroke various other cutesies. A lovely distraction from work and way to release those natural endorphins.

A 13 week old lamb, aww.
A 13 week old lamb, aww.

More photos on Monday – unless I find something better over the weekend for my photo of the week.


 As well as the evening talks/workshops for the Week of Guided prayer, Wednesday evening saw a meeting of my house group for next academic year. We signed the official contract last week, and we moved in in July, so that is all very exciting. There are four of us, and we plan to make our house a Christian community, a Chapter House for those wanting to pray together, eat together, and discuss scripture together. We started this this year, but it has been non-residential, out of the kitchen of the Chaplaincy assistant, so the residence-ness is a big step, and we were meeting to discuss our Rule of Life: our way of living as a community, including how much time we were giving to community work, social work, and Chapter House feedback.

It was an enlightening experience – we spent an hour in full discussion, and I didn’t realise there was so much to be considered – but a rewarding meeting. Just that meeting, imagine! I can’t wait to start living out our plans for faith living.


Again, nothing to report on the writing or editing side of life. I had a cracking vivid dream yesterday about the eldest of a collection of siblings – most of whom are twins, but he isn’t – who has to solve a life-size, Indiana-Jones-like-exploration puzzle (starting as a Where’s Wally/Waldo game) to reveal family secrets. I hold off from writing or planning it, because I know I will become immersed if I do. Story of my life.

I almost did this evening, but then my revision took my mind and left me a shell, waiting for the time for inspiration. It’s now 11.30 and later, so I have run out time.


I leave you with a quote from Hosea, the fancy image found on He is Our Strong Tower:


How apt for the start of my exams. Pray for me, that God gives me the wisdom, insight, and determination I need to power on through my revision, my birthday (yeah, that’s totally a thing I keep forgetting), and the rest of May.

God bless. Have a lovely weekend and a good following week.

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

7 Quick Takes about New Ideas, New Earrings, and New Vloggings

I may have been a little busy the last couple of weeks, but I’m back for this week’s 7 Quick Takes with other Catholic bloggers and hosted by the lovely Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum.

seven quick takes friday 2


With my first philosophy essay in this morning, things seem to be settling back to normal a bit— if there is such a life as ‘normal’. Even so, I anticipate I will still be working on items of work and research as the next half of the term begins to gather pace.

Philosophy and consciousness via Instagram



On Friday, I watched the film City of Ember (based on the novel by Jeanne DuPrau). A little predictable, but overall a nice YA Fantasy – good for those who like dystopians, but it was not over-the-top with all the dystopia clichés, like factions, etc. Tempted to buy the book, myself. There was a puzzle-solving aspect that started my mind churning over a new story plan, though I’m not sure whether it’d be a portal fantasy or a city-underground fantasy.


It’s Lent! I’m observing the usual fasting and abstinence rules, which is in addition to the vegan meal I have with my Bible study group every Wednesday. I find Lent a better time for resolutions than the New Year – after all, we are working towards something (ie. the rise of Our Lord) rather than simply the turn of the page or the simple change in the calendar. So, it’s good to use this opportunity to fit back into a better style of living, both spiritually and physically.


I plan to start doing #vlogagrams more. Those are vlogs of a few seconds long on Instagram. Writer Katy Upperman does her own every week on her Instagram and her blog, which is where I first heard of them. I hope these will improve my confidence in front of a camera and my audition anxiety in general. Plus, they work as snippets into my reading life…when I read some more. The main downside is that there is no chance for editing (without downloading an app.), so I have to record straight and off the bat, and this can be more difficult for me, both in time and, you know, confidence.

This week’s theme was #coverlove, so I went with some of the only covers I had in my uni room. Also using YouTube to help me share…


The Etsy bug has bitten me again, so I will have to put on my restraint hat. This time, it’s new vintage stuff. For instance, these lovely earrings (and lovely packaging!) from The Robot Princess, who does all sorts of sciencey and fandom jewellery, if that’s your thing (it’s certainly mine)! I’m quite pleased with this photograph. I might have to utilise the packaging as backdrop for my photos more often.



New idea syndrome has also been hitting as to my steampunk story about The Mallard’s journey into space and the perils our servant heroine faces there. So, I’ve been writing, but not so much on either, just a mix of the both Steampunk WIPs…


He smiled – and in that one smile, my soul slithered from my body and cozied up to his. When it found my chin, his hand was soft; leaning forward a jot, he took the opportunity, and with it my breath. Literally. He sealed his lips over mine, as if the compartment were lacking enough oxygen for the both of us, and he was going to take all available.