Miss Alexandrina

The thinking-space of a not-quite novelist


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Ready, Set. Write! 2015

As I did last year, I’m participating in the writing incentive and goal-setting blog-hop:

RSW9

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.

As I missed last week’s beginning, I did not set myself any [formal] goals for this week, so today’s post is a bit of a mingly hybrid. My goals for this summer:

1. Start drafting (properly) at least one of planned Steampunk stories: ASB303, The Mallard, or Cry to Dream Again. (Tempted to make a poll to let you guys make the decision for me.)

2. Plan at least one other novella-length fiction, be it contemporary or fantasy.

3. Read at least three books. Believe me, this is a challenge for me. I’ve almost finished Splintered, but there are also a couple I’m borrowing, so I need to get through them this summer. I also need to banish my Kindle habit of starting new books without finishing others.

4. Be more healthy. This includes eating less junk and doing more exercise.

5. Cook at least one new recipe per week. I will be fully self-sufficient in a rented-through-uni house this coming year, so I need to gain confidence in the kitchen and banish my negative thoughts. Plus, it’s good practise for me for the future where I have to be my own and others’ safety net.

One of the copious amounts of egg-based meals I make.

One of the copious amounts of egg-based meals I make.

How I did on last week’s goals:

1.  How I did on last week’s goal(s).

From going from two days of no chapters edited, I managed to edit almost three in two days, and I’m starting to notice little things coming out of the virtual woodwork, such as a side-character’s semantics becoming more pronounced.

I cooked soup today. My first time, and it involved two types of vegetable and a herb, so counts as healthy, too (let’s just not talk about the ice cream for dessert!).

2. My goal(s) for this week.

Finish polishing WTCB and start query batch for June.

Plan what I’m doing for CampNaNo July.

Do a dance workout at least three mornings this coming week.

Make a calendar chart for writing goals. With star stickers. Everybody loves star stickers.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

Culling. For some reason, this edit round has had me being sceptical about most of the curious sentences I once wrote. I love them – for instance, talking about what love means to some characters – but I can’t see them being in a published novel, no matter how literary/philosophical.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week.

People procrastination. I’ve been doing things that have taken my time from me rather than my own attention. For instance, The Boyfriend stayed over the weekend and even if we encourage each other to get on with work, we still manage to distract each other. :P

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

What I love about ASB303 is the chemistry between my MC and her betrothed. I hadn’t intended to include him much, but as the plot grows, I’m starting to see that their relationship could be under fire from the mystery the MC has to discover.

What are your plans or goals for the summer? Got any good book recommendations? I have an opening for books!


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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.

#WTCB

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.

#amEditing

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…

#amWriting

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.


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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

~1~

Guess what I’ve been doing this evening?

AlexB_brainy1

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.

~2~

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!

~3~

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.

~4~

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.

~5~

 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.

~6~

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.

~7~

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

af3fcc2a2201eb8908896ffa229bbb87

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.


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Beautiful People: Greetings to Patience

I’m still editing – and trying to balance the two academic and creative meanings of ‘revision’ – so I have no fully-formed character to present for you. Instead, I’m going to have a new-new character for this month’s great questions of the Beautiful People tag (hosted by Cait and Sky). Patience (surname-not-yet-created) is the MC and a maid in one of the steampunk stories I want to write and of which I have a couple of scenes.

  1. What is their secret desire?

Although she outwardly strives for adventure and wouldn’t say no to the job of travelling into the atmosphere, Patience is actually quite shy and very afeared towards the monster aboard The Mallard cosmic train. Her secret desire is probably a simple one: to have a family and not be a servant her entire life, even if the alternative is ‘serving’ as a mother (!). Thus, it’s natural that she forms a bond with similar-minded family-orientated Milo so quickly. It’s not insta-love (in which I don’t believe), but I have seen this sort of bond form in real life, so I know it is possible to transfer to characters.

  1. What is the best and brightest moment they experience during the story?

Probably kissing Milo. I mean, getting to travel to space is awesome and all, but to meet a fellow mind and to go through mystery with him is something that Patience will never experience in her life again. Hair flowing against the backdrop of stars…

File:Messier 5 Hubble WikiSky.jpg

Messier 5 stars, as seen through the Hubble telescope. Wikipedia commons

 

  1. What are the emotional places your characters are afraid to go to?

As an orphaned only-child, Patience can be quite shielded at times. Not one of those dramatic leading ladies who struggles to bond because her parents were unfair or abusive or, conversely, over-soft, but nevertheless someone who doesn’t share her mind so much when it comes to serious matters. Her parents were not overly-strict or overly-caring, so she appears to not miss them so much. I think she could open her heart to her childhood, though – not be afraid to admit that she wasn’t a working girl her entire life.

  1. Is there a place/city/room where they will never go?

Patience will probably never get to travel. At least: to the other side of Earth. Even when her contract with The Mallard ends, she will probably go back into service (unless Queen Victoria enlists another such contraption) and thus will be confined to England. Patience is not a lady’s maid – hence why she was dispensable yet reliable – so she doesn’t get to travel to other Earth countries with her mistress. I suppose that answers the question, even though I haven’t really thought out much of Patience’s ‘backstory’ yet.

  1. If they were permanently leaving town, what would they easily throw out? What would they refuse to part with?

She easily throws out her outfits and miscellaneous bits and bobs that she held on to when she worked in her household. These little items – like an acorn seed her first sweetheart gave her – keep her sane on nights when her family are demanding, but when Patience realises that she has a chance to move into a new field of work as a server on The Mallard she doesn’t see the need for trinkets of nature and fabric. Will she reject this move? That’s a question I’ll be asking myself.

Patience has a necklace that belonged to her mother, a small silver cross. She never takes it off, even though it gets broken over the course of the novella. She’d definitely refuse to part with it, due to sentimental value, and her parents’ once-religiosity. It has past and a kind of fortune.

Sweet Dreams

  1. What do they want (consciously and tangibly)?

Patience would rather like to spend some time at the seaside, perhaps trying fish delicacies and lending her hand at gutting the fish. She doesn’t want a fisherwoman’s life over being a maid to a small household, but she’d like to try something different for a while, as she’s getting a little bored of routine and safety. Figures.

  1. On the other hand: what do they need (on the emotional, subconscious level)?

Patience could probably do with some modest restraint. She’s not one of the sharper-tongued MCs I’ve written, but she still has an outspoken streak, even going so far as to question why her mistress sold a ring to pay for Patience to be one of the servers travelling to space.

  1. If they could change one thing about themselves, what would it be?

She doesn’t have the best self-confidence. I know Patience would like her mystery-solving skills to be better based on logic, when she doesn’t realise that she’s actually good at inference mystery and, well, snooping and silent wandering.

Nor, for that matter, does she have the best sense of humour. She’s a serious young woman– though, luckily, not to the point of being the straight man whom I wouldn’t be able to write.

  1. What is the most humiliating event of their life?

Being a servant, she has experience many humiliating moments. Her employers – well, her mistress – are rather demeaning, as was the way for servants. There were many life lessons she learnt about working in a busy household as she grew up, many slip-ups, literal and figurative.

  1. What things do they turn to when they need a bit of hope?

Back on Earth, Patience was friends with a younger maid, Marie, who, although lovely, was the lowest in the social hierarchy, and, as such, a bit of a drip. In orbit, however, Patience cannot turn to her absent friend, and she trusts no one but Milo onboard the lethal vessel. On the other hand, she is known to the driver for her love of almond cake and gingerbread pudding from the dining car.

Look, Cait, food for you! Hope you all enjoyed my Beautiful People post for March. I certainly learnt a lot about the backstory and past of my newest MC. Readers, don’t forget to check out the other writers who have participated in this month’s Beautiful People posting.


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Writing Is Really Rather Odd Sometimes

I’ve been going through a writing dry spell at the moment. I find I can’t devote my mind to writing even a page when I have to turn off all those instincts to concentrate on my lecture and seminar content. It’s not the course-work: that’s the easy bit when I have my own space and own time to create, where I can also slip in some creative writing. It’s the time I devote to thinking about my topics, and that is a little bit of a shame.

However, after and during dancing yesterday, I had a bit of an idea about developing a rewrite of WTCB, to make the fight occur earlier in the novel. I have no idea if this is the way to go, or if I’m simply pulling the action far closer than it needs to be, with less build-up. There is even a part of me rebelling, because three chapters was a good, even number, and left a nice gap after the fight. But do so I must for the sake of the novel. Besides, the war still occurs between chapters three and four, so, chronologically, we are rolling in the same direction.

It’s so easy to write this new scene. To have the characters act the way they should. But it makes me wonder: why does going back to WTCB (lovingly titled ‘The Novel’ amongst my friends) feel much like slipping on an old shoe, whilst trying to craft something new, even steampunk of a similar world to The Continent feel like I am forever sticking my fingers into nowhere-glue?

I have an idea: characters and their depth. After all, it might be said that plot evolves out of characters; we cannot force our characters into situations that are nothing to do with them. I know nothing of the new characters I encounter – the contemporary, familiar setting of Jess and Laurie’s university oddly does not ring true; and even Amelia’s alt-history adventures in Egypt have yet to fit entirely into place. Yet, I can fold back into the tragedy of Aidelle and Phillip so easily.

My writing inspiration has returned in the form of my characters themselves. I see Phillip and Rion, walking away from Aidelle and towards the war, pressing through their familiar landscape. I haven’t entirely got the chapter planned out to each and every movement, but there is currently something of a progression, some action, some conflict, and some dialogue, and I’m still deciding how much symbolism and foreshadowing to include, but, for the moment, I’m looking forward to just…writing, something I’ve not been able to do so streamlined for a while.

Writing is really rather odd sometimes.


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Losing It Cover Reveal!

Losing It is a new collection of stories and extracts by multiple YA and NA authors coming out (no pun intended!) Feb 11th. Although I only know a couple of the authors, I am thrilled to be part of today’s cover reveal. This anthology is a great idea – giving YA fans that little bit more to their favourite characters who otherwise had the door closed on their spiced scenes.

LosingIt_Cover_Final_R

Very nice. The blurb:

Losing It: A Collection of VCards coming Feb 11, 2015!

22 Bestselling YA authors reveal what went on behind the curtain in your favorite YA novels! From paranormal to contemporary, this collection features over 200 pages of ALL NEW CONTENT full of deleted scenes, extended endings, and more from the young adult series’ you love. 

In this YA/NA crossover collection all of your favorite heroines are cashing in their VCards! YA just got steamy, sexy, and not afraid to go all the way!

Due to the graphic nature of some content, this collection is recommended strictly for mature readers. 

Stories include excerpts and extended material–ALL NEW CONTENT featuring the following YA novels & authors:

The Grimoire Saga by SM Boyce

The Death Series by Tamara Rose Blodgett

Penny Black Trilogy by Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Dirty Blood series by Heather Hildenbrand

The Mythology Series by Helen Boswell

Stories About Melissa Series by Bethany Lopez

Keegan’s Chronicles by Julia Crane

The Tate Chronicles by K.A. Last

Fragile Creatures by Kristina Circelli

The Spellbound Trilogy by Nikki Jefford

Judgement of the Six Series by Melissa Haag

A Dark Faerie Tale Series by Alexia Purdy

The Double Threat Series by Julie Prestsater

The Elsker Saga by S.T. Bende

Ovialell Series by Tish Thawer

The Runes Series by Ednah Walters

The Cornerstone Series by Misty Provencher

The Waiting Series by Ginger Scott

Forged Series by A.O. Peart

The Arotas Series by Amy Miles

Funeral Crashing Mysteries by Milda Harris

The Wolf Trilogy by M.R. Polish

The Good Girls Have Gone Wild!!

Don’t want to wait? Want a sneak peek NOW behind the curtain with these authors? Request access to the Champagne Room on FB, a private, VIP group where you’ll get excerpts, giveaways, and the dirty details about the VCards we’ve cashed in…in our stories, of course!

Request exclusive access here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/332424686965271/

*Must be 18 or over to enter

champagneimage

 


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Nomad – The Album

Just wanted to celebrate the post-apocalyptic steampunk band Abney Park (though they are American, they got their name from the real Abney Park, located in *ahem* England), whose newest album Nomad comes out today. You’ll like Abney Park if you like slightly heavier steampunk music, as well as less traditional instruments (on Tribal Nomad, we hear/see Captain Robert’s first bouzouki solo) and an overarching storyline behind great music. In Nomad, Captain Robert and his crew of the Airship Ophelia are well and truly grounded in the apocalypse, and must find a way through the dark and this deadly new world.

What I also love about Abney Park is how varied their music style is. You may remember that a previous Friday I linked another song from Nomad, Two Elixirs, inspired by the tale of Jekyll and Hyde, which is more electro swing than anything (as is The Casbah from the little I’ve heard of the song). Tribal Nomad is a lot more traditional apocalypsica, but songs like The Anthropophagists’ Club (from their previous album) showcase their musicality. And witty lyrics! If you don’t know what an anthropophagist’s favourite meal is…

Anyway, the official video for the song Tribal Nomad:

It’s pretty nifty a video as well as an awesome song :)

You can buy Nomad on Abney Park’s website, or just go to support the band and enjoy their music.

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