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…


  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 😀

Photo of the Week: Musicae

I know, I know, it’s a Thursday, and we can’t destroy the schedule – but I did warn you that I’m not quite back into mind yet. 😉

Plus, I haven’t had much to shoot. But we went into Oxford today, and that city is home to me; and so I get so inspired by being back there, with its gushing architecture and wonderful thrum of life. Sad to say we were a bit touristy today and went to see bits of the university I haven’t yet. Nevertheless, I have to indulge myself sometimes. Of course, I jumped at the chance to see into the University’s famous Bodleian Library (some scenes of Harry Potter were filmed there, but that’s not important. Just thought you ought to know 😉 )


The school (or classification) of Music. Can I hide there? 😀 I loved the artistic look of the door ajar.

Diction: Latinate versus Anglo-Saxon

Reblog Thursday is back! (Ish) This reblog post is from all the way back in 2012, but I only stumbled across it a couple of days ago, as I only started following Lara’s blog last year.

Ever wondered why synonyms are sometimes so very different to each other? Or why some words, especially in writing, are sesquipedalian and polysyllablic ( 😉 ) whilst others are short and simple? In this post, Lara explains how the roots of words can effect how they are read and which genres they better suit.

Kind of explains how my Latin studies effected my propensity for lengthy sentences and florid oratories! 😛

Lara Willard

Diction = word choice

Synonym = a word’s twin in meaning, e.g. “big” and “large” are synonyms.

Ever wonder why English has so many freaking synonyms? Because it’s the lovechild of Germanic and French languages. (French isn’t called a romance language for no reason. ) While having so many choices can be a wonderful thing, it can also be disastrous. With great vocabulary comes great responsibility. I’m talking to you, Christopher Paolini. Step away from the thesaurus.

You’ll notice the language split when two political candidates start campaigning and one plays the “smarter than thou” card and the other plays the “average joe” card. Smarter-than-thou is going to try to dazzle you with a academic, million-dollar vocabulary. Average Joe is going to give you a pat on the back with neighbor-speak. John Kerry vs. W. Bush. I’d watch their debates for examples if I didn’t hate politics so much.


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7 Quick Takes about the 80s, Blogging, and Reviewing

It’s Friday. Let’s wipe the sweat from our brows and settle into our weekend routines after sharing our days. Hosted by Thisain’ttheLyceum: Friday’s 7 Quick Takes.

seven quick takes friday 2


Our host Kelly did some getting-to-know-you abouts today, but there’s frankly not much I can actually add to my own factoid. I’m a Catholic convert and have been for a year now; I’m painfully shy even around my best friends; I like looking after people, particularly those affected by mental illness or broken homes; I’m interested in linguistics, with a focus on semantic and syntactical differences between age and socioeconomic status, and I can read and write decent Latin, though I am out of practise studying it academically.

It’s great to read about the steps forward people have taken, and maybe one day, I’ll be welcoming new readers onto the blog with something more like a life story and less like a link to a bunch of facts you can read on my about page.


I’ve been listening to a lot of 80s music recently. I loved the 80s: full of life and vigour and madness, particularly in those hairstyles and outfits.

Head Over Heels – Tears for Fears

I do rather like this video. It is less crazy than some 80s videos.


I found Cait G Drews’ post on Negative Reviews very interesting. Personally, I prefer reading negative reviews, as I find these are the most objective and most likely to reflect my tastes in writing styles. If I don’t like a book, it will probably be detailed in someone else’s review. We do need negative reviews as well as positive ones, but I do understand that we need that balance between the two, and not end up with “it was rubbish” ‘reviews’.


I led Creative Writing this week – call me a ‘guest speaker’, if you will – about blogging. Appropriate, even if I never intended to correspond my anniversary with the talk. We had quite a surprisingly-large turn-out, and leading actually wasn’t as hard as I had thought – much easier than leading a philosophy session at least! We got some decent discussion going about what constitutes a blog and a vlog, what should and shouldn’t be in a blog (both in terms of content and writing style), and what makes a blog interesting. The only times I really faltered was keeping my creative writing chums’ discussions in line!



In the creative seminar this week, we focused on being better Betas – better Budgens to others’ Joyces – and, of course, the discussion turned to plot and how to much such forward. As you may know, plot is something I particularly struggle with. I like the quiet novel and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but commercially, fiction sells if it has action, suspense, mystery… Y’know, the clichés. 😉 So, that got my mind whirring.


I did some writing. Yippee, haha, despite it not being very much:


“Humph,” replied the good doctor. “Just show me these artefacts.”

A glint from the warden’s eyes. Almost a chuckle.

“Right this way.”

He guided them into the linen tent, the long pegs of the structure digging into the dust-and-dirt. Beyond the entrance lay a tent divided in two – on one side, a stack of chairs, wooden, three legs splintered, against the external wall. The other end of the tent held the residence of the table of goods.

The Bookcase Tag

Time for one of these bookish posts, considering that I’ve done a creative and a thoughtful, and I’m going to do a reblog tomorrow and a link-up on Friday.

What can you spot? ;)*

Apart from this picture, which is of my makeshift bookshelf under my bed (my ‘portable’ one, too), be prepared for lousy-webcam pics. I’m working on improving this.

The Rules

Answer the following questions about books and then tag five other bloggers**. You can answer the questions any way you want, whether it’s on your blog, in a video, or a combination of the two. Then remember to let whoever tagged you know when your post is up so they can read it.

You can read NevilleGirl’s post, which is where I first saw the tag.

I should say: this is my series bookcase, charged with keeping together the sacredness that are print book series. The sharp-eyed of you who can work through the shoddy photos will see Harry Potter, Jacqueline Wilson book after Jacqueline Wilson book, The Princess Diaries (minus book six, which I sadly lost when I was nine), Sophie Mackenzies, all the Hitchiker’s Guide books (including And Another Thing) and too many Rainbow Magic books than I’d like to admit, amongst others. Judging by this, I used to really like quick reads. Shame on you, Alex.


  1. Is there a book that you really want to read but haven’t because you know that it’ll make you cry?

Not many books actually make me cry, and generally these sorts of things leap on me when I’m not looking/expecting them.

  1. Pick one book that helped introduce you to a new genre.

Mm, I’m going by this bookcase. One of the books I remember reading when I was a child was Harry Potter, but, after that, I moved onto contemporary in a pretty straight-genre way. I certainly didn’t read heavy fantasies like I do these days – any fantasies and they were at least urban/contemporary fantasy or with familiar settings.

Anyway, I certainly never read historical books – I made it clear from a young age that history as a school subject was as dull as black bricks – and yet the entire Lady Grace Mysteries series lies on this bookcase. Nowadays, I have a huge soft spot for historical mysteries (and, uh, have written a couple of my own).

  1. Find a book that you want to reread.

Although I don’t reread a lot (moving on, and all that), this bookcase does well for books that I’d reread. When I am a free person, I’d like to spend time rereading all of the Series of Unfortunate Events, cover to cover, with a mature writer’s eye to spot the references and quirky style. I envy Handler’s post-modernism.

That’ll make me cry, but more from sentiment than anything.

  1. Is there a book series you read but wish that you hadn’t?

That question sounds rather harsh for my liking. I can work with it… I’ve pretty much DNF-ed The 13 Secrets, the last in the 13 Treasures trilogy, but I suspect I outgrew the stories surrounding a teen who can see bad faeries. Conversely, I always felt that the books were a weaker version of The Spiderwick Chronicles (which are not present…begging the dire question: where are they?). Sadly, I think I continued reading out of loyalty.

  1. If your house was burning down and all of your family and pets were safe, which book would you go back inside to save?

Considering that I have the complete works of Shakespeare, Conan Doyle and Carroll in anthologies, I’d be rather stuck. I think probably the last, seeing as I’m partway through various stories. Besides, that hardback is illustrated and a glorious green pattern.

  1. Is there one book on your bookshelf that brings back fond memories?

In one way or another, every cover on this ‘case brings back fond memories. That’s one thing I love about print books – that one forms better memories of that moment when… because the brain is utilising more than one sensory input. On Kindle, reading is scanning a computer screen, and, as such, can be less memorable.

For the question in point, I’ll choose Armed and Magical, the second of the Raine Benares series (another series I need to get back on top of reading – especially after how awesome the Nelson agency is – but the books in print are more difficult to get hold of in the UK) about a half-elven woman with the gift of finding who gets bound to a stone that sucks souls. I remember sitting in my father’s garden on a hammock reading in the sun. Classical English memory gunk.

  1. Find a book that has inspired you the most.

The collection of four Christie plays there proves that mysteries can be done onstage and still have the simplicity and complexity that one adores in her works. I only acquired and read the collection two years ago (I remember because I was studying Theatre Studies at the time anyway, which sent me into the bookshops in search of set text plays), but, as I started out writing stage scripts, I admired Christie’s ability to balance setting and stage direction with the dialogue. I mean, as much as I love Priestly’s stage directions that are almost descriptive prose in themselves, I understand that no modern actor or director really wants to be faced with a block of text describing the exact way to behave. (I could/should write a whole post on this topic).

  1. Do you have any autographed books?

Three books in Caroline Lawrence’s Roman Mysteries Series, The Secrets of Vesuvius, The Sirens of Surrentum, and The Slave-Girl From Jerusalem, which I treasure, since she was an inspiration to twelve-year-old me when she came to our school. (Though I’ve still not read the final book in the series – I keep forgetting to buy it, and time passes…)

I can’t find them at the moment, but I’m pretty sure I have a couple of other autographed books, whether in this ‘case of not. I met enough authors through school that some of the autographs are a tad arbitrary, yet… *shrugs*

Ah, the old ‘Fortune favours the bold’. (I know  The other two inscriptions are the classical Latin of poetry phrases ‘the greatest good’ and ‘ h’
Ah, the old ‘Fortune favours the bold’. The other two inscriptions are the classical Latin of poetry phrases ‘the greatest good’ and ‘ short life’
  1. Find the book that you have owned the longest. 

I’m going by personal ownership here, for I have a couple of secondhand books in this bookcase, in particular translations of Ovid and Virgil texts. But the ones I’ve owned/have been in my possession the longest are probably the Roald Dahl books. I can’t list them all, but we’ve got The Twits, George’s Marvellous Medicine and both Charlie and the… books.

I forgot he wrote so prolifically and in such a quick-read way. I think Esio Trot was always a favourite to read through. Nobody questions the concepts and settings Dahl creates. Nobody raises a single eyebrow at the validity and realism. They just are.

Bottom shelf. From right to left… Rainbow Magic books stacked, topped with Redwall books and a couple of Faerie Wars books. Roald Dahl books x13, Hazel by Julie Hearn, and the Hitchhiker’s Guide ‘Trilogy’.

10. Is there a book by an author that you never imagined you would read or enjoy?

I went to school with Julie Hearn’s niece, and whilst I didn’t know Julie so personally, I got an arc of Hazel through the school. I’d enjoyed another of her books, The Merrybegot, because of its almost magical realism feel (it’s set around the time of witch-hunting), but Hazel is much more traditional pre-war  historical – sent to live on her grandfather’s Caribbean plantation with slaves of colour, Hazel discovers things about her family’s past that will change her perception of the future.

And I thought it was a clever plot, if a little slow to build. You see, another historical that took me by surprise.

*An interesting collection and that most pertaining to my life and tastes at the moment. This also begs the interesting question of whether we are able to surmise what a person is like by their bookcase.

**I suspect that everybody I would tag has already done the tag (I am rather late to the scene), but if you haven’t, feel free to do the tag and link back here. 🙂

Quick Takes Friday – Returning Home, Birthday Cupcakes, and Latin Harry Potter

Feel free to join me and other bloggers at ConversionDiary to share our weeks.

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes on a plane!!!

Feel free to join me and other bloggers at ConversionDiary to share our weeks.


My first week back home I’ve been hard at work, even if I’ve barely left the house. Mornings unpacking and reorganising all my junk; afternoons spent in the living room. It’s all been about writing and the creativity of first drafts as I work through CampNaNoWriMo.


But I’m not just writing…I’m reading. I’ve almost finished Encante, and I hope to get a review up next week or so. I also spotted Harrius Potter in my books as I was unpacking. You read that correctly: I have the Latin translation of the Philosopher’s Stone. Of course, it is easier to read knowing the general gist than if it were the modern equivalent of unseen Ovid.


These last three/four days, six of my friends have graduated. I am beyond proud of them, but it’s a sad time of change for all of us. It’s true that I cannot complain that I won’t see them again, since I have the people in my own year still; for the leavers, they are parting ways with all of their university chums.


I baked cupcakes today, using a recipe I have meant for lemon cupcakes. Instead, I used my typical vanilla essence to flavour and added in a good dollop of cinnamon. My mother and I have enough cinnamon in this house to garnish an entire army! Because I made them simply for my relatives, I mixed a few with chocolate chips and drizzles my spare red food colouring on the top, for a half-marble effect.



Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. We stayed in, and didn’t really do much, but we had some splendid Taittinger (bubbly) and I watched Back to the Future Part Two. I have a weakness for television running in the background whilst I’m trying to first draft. And, in all fairness, I didn’t think Part Two was as bad as it’s said to be.


I’m going birthday shopping (you might remember that the certain day was two months ago!) with one of my best friends tomorrow, and I am so excited to see her in flesh again after, literally, months. I’d invited her up to see my uni room a couple of times, but she recently got a new job and has been rushed off her feet.


An extract of some of this week’s work on the Steampunk adventure I’ve been writing:

“Splendid!” the captain remarked. “Ten more minutes and we shall depart for the Americas.” He gestured forward the slipshod number of people he called his crew.

Cathy scratched her ear. Most of her didn’t mind this. She watched the brief procession of three civil servants. A middle-aged gentleman with a quiff and the spare screwdriver lodged behind his ear was introduced as engineer Whyte. A lean man with a sharp gaze and kohl-stained designs up his arms was said to be the helmsman, Eddard. Next filed forward the tall, light-haired woman—

Woman? A lady crewman?

“This is Amelia West. She is our cartographer, trained at the royal institute of science, no less.”

“Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss West,” Jonathon said with his best alluring smile. 

Poem: I Was Working Away The Pain

I see you in the dark shapes under my eyes,

Where I’ve been losing sleep

Over contemplations and other intangible

Mysteries of the black storm beneath my chest.

That heavy block – organs, flesh, blood…

Of all things, my blood shares not your blue hue,

But if I were the sky,

I’d bleed in globules of rainfall dark.

Still, that organism beats irregularity. Stilled.

I forgot I was working away the pain –

Yet, how can I complete any masterpiece?

Without a muse, I stew without a soul.

Mimic my words like a pen without an owner,

Inscribe my touch with a senseless breath;

I beg you: take my voice and use my transcript.

At least then I’d share your separate lips.

Question after question, rushing torrent,

Claim me. Inquiries, not their inquirers, carry gifts:

Are your walls as towering as mine?

Do you precipitate like the clouds

With my eyes in the shadow of the moon

And sun? Broken – the sky fell with me,

Yet the gods stayed in their heavens.

Now my night is dawning,

My eyes are closed by petty exhaustion.

Sleep comes crawling with an apology.

It matters not.

meum errumpis pectum