Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Reading List 2016

I don't really use Goodreads any more, so I have to record my 2016 reading progress here.

It was a slow start to the year: I kept trying to read books but somehow I was unable to get into any of the several I'd started.  But about three quarters of the way through March I bought two books by Oscar de Muriel mostly because they had interesting covers.  It took me a little while to get into the first, The Strings of Murder, but once I did I finished it at a phenomenal rate and started the second, A Fever of The Blood, immediately after.  That one stalled a little in the middle but when I finished it I was really disappointed that it had been published this year, as now I have to wait for the next one to be written...

After that, I finished off The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman.  It was an okay book that could have used better editing: the story only started to get interesting just over halfway through and the ending was an inconclusive disappointment.  I have no idea if there is a sequel, or if there had been one intended before the weird ending.

Then it was onto a spot of non-fiction, with How To Manage Your Slaves by Jerry Toner / Marcus Sidonius Falx which is... well, exactly that: how to buy and manage your slaves in the ancient Roman empire--but delivered with a sense of humour.  Ah, the joys of research.

After that I moved on to The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan, a very lovely book I read a review of in the Daily Mail (don't shoot me) and then forgot the title of.  I had to explain the book to the very nice man in Waterstones who knew exactly which one I meant--and couldn't remember its title either.  He had to Google it, then trotted off to find it on the shelf, came back when it wasn't there, had another look on the system, then located it on a table near the door...  But it was well worth the hunting.

As well as reading that, I read Hitman Anders and The Meaning Of It All by Jonas Jonasson, bought from WH Smith because I spotted it while ordering some pastels.  It's a peculiar and enjoyable novel that isn't quite what you expect it to be when you read the description.

I also managed to finish Snuff by Terry Pratchett, which I'd started last year but for the life of me just could not get into, which was a tiny bit distressing.  It seems that the opening quarter or fifth or so is just quite boring though, and once past that I really enjoyed it.

Then it was Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett which was, I think, a fitting end to the main Discworld stories.  I still have the last Tiffany Aching book to go but... I'll read that when I'm feeling a little less sad, I think.

So it's onto The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins, which I picked up at Waterstones for the very reasonable price of £4, as it was half price.  And who can say no to a half-price book?  it was a better book than I’d anticipated too.  I don’t often read straight-up thriller-type novels because I guess the endings too well, but I enjoyed this — even if I guessed the ending before I was a third of the way through the book.  One thing I didn’t expect was to like the main narrator so much: I’d seen people comment about how unlikeable she was, but she was... well, human, and I appreciated her fallibility.

After that is Storm Front by Jim Butcher, book 1 of The Dresden Files, although it felt a little more like I was several books in and had missed out on some things.  Sometimes I enjoy that feeling but in this case it was a little frustrating, even if I did enjoy the book a lot more than I expected I would.  Still, I’m glad to cross this one off my TBR pile, as it’s been glaring down from the top of the bookcase for a couple of years now — I just wish I wasn’t planning on adding the next one along to it.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest was given to me by a friend who hadn’t enjoyed it.  I can sort of see why.  In some ways it’s enjoyable and the author has a way with words, but it takes too long to get going, I didn’t care too much about the characters, plot twists were apparent a mile off and both the identity of one character and the ending in general were incredibly anticlimactic.

Next up was The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, again given to me for the same reason by the friend who hadn’t enjoyed the previous book.  It’s all written in present tense which sometimes I don’t notice, and other times suddenly lunges out at me and feelings glaringly obvious, but that mostly settles by the end of the book.  Of particular irritation is the author’s continual use of the word ‘chile’ instead of ‘chilli’ for the pepper.  Yes, it’s a nonstandard spelling but I just keep scanning it as the country and then need to reread the line again.  On the whole the book is... odd, with some peculiar pacing and with an ending I found somehow unsatisfactory but can’t exactly put my finger on why.

In the middle of reading that (it was a slog), I also read The Uncommoners: The Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell.  It has some grammatical issues and managed to confuse me by referring to one character as having green eyes, then three pages later stating they’re brown, then half a book later saying they were green again.  This was a problem given a particular plot point; I didn’t know whether I could actually trust the character until I got to the end and realised it was just an error.  Proofreading fail from Penguin, but they’ve been accumulating black marks on that front for a while now so I guess it should be no surprise.  Those aside, it was an enjoyable YA book with an interesting premise—which sounds like damning with faint praise given the aforementioned complaint, but it is an enjoyable book, it just needed more care given to it.

Onto Fool Moon by Jim Butcher, because it turned out I couldn’t be in a bookshop and not buy the next three books.  Then Grave Peril, which had me spending ages fretting about the fate of one character, and then Summer Knight.  And now I’m out of Dresden books again...

So it’s onto Stephen King’s Cell that I picked up cheap in a small bookstore in the Broadmarsh and which I enjoyed immensely.  Now King has achieved a kind of literary fame it seems like critics fall over themselves to call his books ‘thrillers’, but let’s be honest here: this is a lovingly-crafted horror.  It plays on those popular little fears about technology and I couldn’t put it down.  I can’t decide if I’d have liked a little explanation about how it all happened or not, as I liked how it ended anyway...

I picked up the next book cheap in the same bookstore too, and it’s another Stephen King: Full Dark, No Stars, which is a collection of four excellent short stories, with one bonus story.  Needless to say, I enjoyed them all a lot.

After that, I had a small interlude when I was reading two books at once, which then became three.  I started with Jim Butcher’s The Aeronaut’s Windlass, the first of a new series.  In some ways it was reminiscent of the Ketty Jay series by Chris Wooding, particularly in the relationship between two characters, but it was also very much its own beast.  Butcher always describes Harry’s cat wonderfully in the Dresden books and this time was just as fantastic.  Rowl really stole many of the scenes he was in, but I grew very attached to all the characters and I’m very much looking forward to the next book.

I was also reading M. C. Beaton’s The Quiche of Death, the first in the Agatha Raisin novels I bought my mother while she was ill.  I’m still reading it but I’m enjoying it a lot: it’s moved from being my ‘Downstairs’ book to replacing The Aeronaut’s Windlass as my ‘Upstairs’ book.  They’re quite short books with sparse prose, but humorous and Agatha is definitely a character and a half...

I bought Alice by Christina Henry while I was waiting for my new phone’s new sim card to activate (turns out it’s dangerous letting me even be in the same city as a book shop) and started reading it in the Nottingham Waterstones’ Costa cafe.  It’s a simplistically written (moreso than Lewis Carroll’s style, which I think was what was aimed for) but enjoyable new version of Alice in Wonderland, although not one for the faint of heart.  I devoured it in a couple of days.

As such I then moved on to the next book by Christina Henry, Red Queen, although so far I’ve not made much progress through it.

At the same time, I also started Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, which I’ve been meaning to buy ever since I read the beautiful comic version illustrated by Cassandra Jean (the second of which I'm waiting to arrive...!).  I rather wish I’d bought it sooner, as it’s very well written and honestly I’m struggling to put it down...

This will, of course, be updated again once I finish it... or remember to, at any rate.

Friday, 1 January 2016

New Year's Goalolutions

That doesn't sound quite right.  But they don't really work if I call them 'resolutions', do they?  They're more goals, so maybe we'll stick with that.  I've butchered the English language more than enough already.

How did I do last year?


  1. Read at least 30 books this year.  I said last year I was trying to read more because I could remember when I didn't have time to read.  Well... in the end I didn't get much time to read.  I've read 19 so far, which is still pretty respectable--although a lot of people would want me stoned to death for considering something so low to be 'respectable'.
  2. Write one story a week, or at least 20 stories for the year.  Thanks to Blogging From A-Z I actually managed this with 24 stories.  Admittedly they weren't one a week (to bring me up to 52), more one(-ish) a day for a month even with gross sinusitis, but I still sort of did it.
  3. Finish outstanding projects.  Nope.  Additionally, I've quit writing with a view to publishing and am not intending on sharing any other stories.
  4. Finish 5 computer games.  Before The Echo; Decay - The Mare; Digital - A Love Story; Tales From The Borderlands (sob); The Fall; The Room; DanganRonpa; DanganRonpa 2; Dragon Age: Inquisition; Gears of War: Ultimate Edition; Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3; Until Dawn and COD: Advanced Warfare.  Yep, I'd say I've done that... and I still have loads of games to finish too.
  5. Handwrite more and practice calligraphy.  Between work and apparently all those games, this one fell a bit by the wayside, but I did do a little recently and found I'm nowhere near as rusty as I expected to be.  I really do need better quality paper for it though.  This really is one of those hobbies where the quality of your materials is important--poor quality paper just bleeds around the letters.
  6. Make more jewellery.  Not in the way I was expecting, but I learned to sew beadwork and made more that way.  I also made some metal accessories for doll clothing.
  7. Try to be better at advertising myself.  See #3.
  8. Stop being a whiny self-pitying shite.   This is a losing battle and I may as well give up.

So, what are this year's resolutions?

Shorter than last year's, for a start.

  1. Read at least 30 books this year.  Since I couldn't manage it this year it seems a good one to stick at.  With added bonus points for: finish two of the books that are/have become incredibly boring.  i.e. anything on my Goodreads 'Currently Reading' list that's been there for six months or more.  There's... at least three of them?  Probably more by this time next year.
  2. Try to enjoy writing again and hopefully finish off some stuff that's incomplete, just for myself.  Turns out I enjoy finishing stories, I just never get around to it.
  3. Finish 5 computer games.  Seems a good one to stick at.  Not least because I bought three on Steam this month alone, I've got a couple more from Games With Gold on the Xbox and the sales on the Vita are always horribly tempting (I've got a few games on that I haven't even started).  Hopefully I can manage to finish off at least as many next year as I did this year.  (And maybe finish Marathon 1 and 2 again, and actually complete 3 without getting lost/confused/more lost.  And when I say lost, I mean my sense of direction in that game is bloody awful.)
  4. Take up more crafting.  It's not just metalwork and jewellery any more.  Now I have dolls, I'd like to learn to sew better and design clothes for them (but I'd like to make jewellery for them too), and Milos needs two faceups doing which involves pastels and paint, and he needs his elf ears creating, and...
  5. And lastly, on the subject of dolls, limit myself to only one more doll this year.  And that would have to be a good Alex, because Milos 'needs' one.  He has no radiator in his room, after all, and who else will keep him warm?

So there we go, last year's goals accounted for and this year's set.  Has anyone else succeeded (or failed) in last year's resolutions / goals?  Or are you planning on setting some this year?

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

WiPpet Wednesday: gloom and (impending) doom

Sorry for my total uselessness at getting around the blogs last week.  I've been in a frankly ridiculous "blah" mood for a while.  I think it has something to do with the weathers or the seasons or something.  Either way it's irritating.  I'm getting nothing done.

Well, not strictly true.  I'm trying to keep my hands busy so I've been making some jewellery for my mother's birthday.  Well, was, until I ran out of 4mm green bicones, so I have to wait for more to arrive...

The flowers are a necklace (hence being so irritating when I ran out); the diagonal stripes are a bracelet.  She also wants some glasses cords for when her glasses make a break for it, so I'm trying to figure out how best to approach those (have all the materials I need, anyway, including some "how much??" non-tarnish silver wire).

Oh, and a tiny anvil.

It's very heavy.  I think you could brain someone quite effectively with it.

WiPpet Wednesday

WiPpet Wednesday is hosted by the always-lovely K. L. Schwengel, and is a blog hop where participants share sections of their works in progress (hence the name).  All entries should relate to the date in some way, either via simple means or complicated WiPpet Maths.  You can find out more and read the other entries over here.

It's the 16th September 2015, so 1 + 6 = 7; 2 + 0 + 1 = 3 and 3 - 5 = 2.  7 + 2 = 9 for the convoluted maths, or simply 9 paragraphs because it's the 9th month.

The elevator has come to a stop and the doors have opened on Fayth and RQ.  It's... going about as well as you'd expect.

Five weapons of varying sizes were levelled at his face as the elevator door pinged closed behind them.  In his grip, he felt RQ tense, then lean back slightly.  The door sighed open again.
“Any sign of them yet?”  He said, forcing a smile.  “I was just telling the guards how everyone knows the secure block is at the bottom of these things.  We decided RQ was better off upstairs where they wouldn’t think of looking.”
Two guns wavered, then lowered.  The other three sets of fingers edged closer to their triggers.
And still RQ remained silent.  He could break away, make a dash for the safety of the guards and crewmen and there’d be nothing Fayth could do to stop him.  He could scream, yell how he’d been abducted yet again, but he stared at the floor and didn’t say a word.  Fayth should feel grateful, he knew he should, but it was downright irritating; his life was at least partially in the hands of a man who acted more like a spoiled brat.
A third gun slowly lowered, its large owner giving him a long, searching stare.  “Where’s his escort?”
“Two came up here,” Fayth said without missing a beat.  “I guess by the stairs, if they’re not here yet.  The other two said they’d stay down there just in case.”
The speaker looked unconvinced.  Fayth didn’t blame him; he was being incredibly unconvincing.  “There’s nothing on the radar.”
“I bet there was nothing on your radar last time either.  If you could just get out of my way...”
The gun snapped up again.

Perhaps Fayth should stop talking now.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

WiPpet Wednesday: pretty distractions

Despite not actually liking dolls because I find them disturbing, I've wanted an asian ball-jointed doll for a while.  And for a while, I mean "at least seven years".  I think I like them because the kind I'm interested in aren't intended to look cutesy.  They're intended to look like grown men and women, which somehow makes them significantly less disturbing.

So somehow, to commemorate me actually completing Ready, Set, WRITE without dropping out and with actually increasing bit-by-bit the amount I wrote, I finally ordered myself one.

It's a tiny bit terrifying.

But the funny thing is...  after over seven years of waiting and wishing, and then finally ordering myself one...

About ten days after that, I ordered another.  So after all this time, I'm now waiting for two!  And I have to admit, I'm particularly looking forward to the second...  He's a limited edition re-run of an old model, and the reason why I ordered him is because the moment I saw him, I realised he looks uncannily like one of my characters.  The character in question is Milos, and he's not a character I ever expected to be able to find, being as he is this guy to the right, a dokkalfa with a quite specific face shape (his nose and jaw in particular don't seem that common...).

So of course, I couldn't resist...

And now I have to wait at least three months for him to even be made!  *whimper*  Even when he gets here, there's so much work that'll need to be done: he'll need eyes (yep, scary...) and hair, and I'll have to paint his face so he's not just plain dark grey resin...

I'm actually really looking forward to it!  Enough that I've finally started working on 2012's NaNo again, which I always felt a little bad about never finishing, particularly since it left a gaping hole in the continuity of the shorter stories.  And best of all, I'll finally to write one scene that's been in my head all this time and throw Milos's partner Alex off a tower block.  *grins*

As to whether doll!Milos will get an Alex as well...  well, I'm categorically not looking for one...  *cough*

WiPpet Wednesday

It's WiPpet Wednesday, a weekly blog hop organised by the always-lovely K. L. Schwengel that shares snippets from participants' works in progress where every entry relates in some way to the date, either by simple means or complicated WiPpet Maths.  You find out more, can read other posts and join in yourself by signing up over here.

Today is the 9th September, 09/09, and the maths is simple: 9 + 9 for 18 sentences that follow not-quite-directly on from last week, but near enough.  Fayth considered shooting RQ in the legs and carrying him instead, but didn't feel too inclined towards being bled on...  (I'm sure RQ appreciated it too.)

Two corridors along he found what he was looking for.  RQ stopped struggling, standing sullenly as far from Fayth as his reach would allow, while Fayth pounded at the elevator call button and prayed it wasn’t occupied when it arrived.
“You don’t understand.”
Fayth thumped the button again, hoping it disguised the way he jumped at the words.  “I don’t understand what?”
RQ wouldn’t look at him.  “Anything.”
He opened his mouth to argue, but the ping of the opening door beat him to it.  There was no point reasoning with RQ now anyway, the determined set of his jaw screamed that he wouldn’t listen to a word Fayth said.  He dragged him inside the elevator instead. 
The problem was, even sulky and obstructive, RQ was still easily the most stunning man Fayth had ever seen.  His mood reflected in the lower lip pooched out without his even realising it.  His blue-green eyes were half-closed and determinedly distant.  He still wore the clothes Fayth had left for the expected woman in his room.  If Fayth shoved him against the wall and kissed him like his life depended on it, it’d only be his own fault, looking as incredible in cheap, flimsy clothes and dangerous surroundings as he did.
Only it’d be all Fayth’s fault, not RQ’s, and he couldn’t inflict that kind of pain on him again.  Not on anyone without their implicit permission, in fact—and hadn’t that fallen flat before, with the kind of situational misreading Fayth hadn’t made since he was a teenager.
Resting his free hand on the pistol in the back of his trousers, he glared daggers at the button panel instead and swore to God that if anyone called the lift on their way to the bay floor, he’d kneecap them.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

WiPpet Wednesday: gamey rambling (again) and things not at all going according to plan...

I finally did it!  I worked my little arse off and I finally got G is for Gabrys finished... although I didn't get to do much else between that, work and family time...

As a reward, I'm having a couple of days off (sorry Ais, Lirio, RQ and Fayth...) to play Metal Gear Solid V: the Phantom Pain.

I am... not very good at Metal Gear games.  I liked Metal Gear Solid 2 enough to buy it on the Vita after I had it on the original Xbox, although that may have had something to do with a certain put-upon, very dim, blond male character who spends a chunk of the game naked.  I have MGS3 on Vita mostly because it came with MGS2; I don't have MGS4 (despite it also featuring the put-upon, dim blond) because that was PS3 only and the PS4--which, like the PS3, I said I would only get if there were enough games I wanted to play to justify the cost--is not backwards compatible nor is it likely to be.  And I have MGS5: Ground Zeroes, which although I completed I unfortunately did not play enough to unlock said dim blond's level, due to being damn terrible at sneaking.

Also, I have Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, which is actually my favourite game out of all of them, not least for featuring the same certain put-upon dim blond and for being far more my kind of game, which means lots of stabbing and no sneaking at all.  Also vast amounts of homoerotic content.  (No, I'm not kidding.)

I've also got a lot of other computer games.  And in those games, there's usually theft of some kind.  You can pickpocket and rob bodies in Assassin's Creed.  You can hack computers and steal cars in Watch_Dogs, or accidentally pilfer cheese in Skyrim.  Most RPGs encourage unsolicited entering of homes, rifling through their drawers and helping yourself to their valuables.  Even in Portal you can pick up and run away with a usually very startled sentry turret.

The Phantom Pain is probably the first game I've played where you can steal the enemy soldiers.

I am having a field day.

WiPpet Wednesday

WiPpet Wednesday is a blog hop organised by the always-brilliant K. L. Schwengel, which focuses on our Works in Progress and ties them into the date, either through simple means or more complicated WiPpet Maths.  It's a whole lot of fun filled with brilliant excerpts, and you can find out more and join in yourself here.

It's the 2nd September (02/09, woo, new month!), so my maths is just 9 - 2 = 7, for 7 paragraphs, following on from Fayth deciding that playing nice just wasn't working any longer (though it looks like it might start backfiring...)

This will make sense eventually, honest.  (Also, profanity warning.)
The guard went down with a howl, one hand scrabbling uselessly for his pistol while the other clasped his knee.  The second guard fumbled with the catches on his holster, all the while gaping at Fayth; Fayth shot him in the foot.  Without waiting for either man to get a handle on their pain long enough to process what was happening, he dashed between them and grabbed RQ’s hand.  “Come on.”
RQ jerked back in his grip, struggling to free himself.  “What the hell are you doing?!  Let me go, you fucking madman!”
Fayth tightened his grip and put a second laser hole in one of the guard’s legs for good measure.  “I’m saving your worthless life, that’s what I’m doing, and if you don’t get moving I’ll shoot you in the legs too.”
RQ paled but made no effort to follow.  It took all of Fayth’s strength to drag him forward, muttering profanities under his breath the whole way.  He even had to put a third hole into one of the guards, to add insult to injury: a neat one in his hand because the bastard was going for his gun again.  Clearly incapable of taking a hint.  The other one was a little quicker on the uptake, his own falling away from the butt of his pistol, but Fayth had to reverse up the hallway nonetheless, in part to keep an eye on them, and in part because he suddenly didn’t trust RQ not to brain him if he turned his back.  Just remembering his punch made Fayth’s cheekbone ache.
In front of him, RQ tried to pull free again and yelped as Fayth crushed his hand.  “Don’t you understand I’m trying to help?”  Fayth shouted over the deafening wah-wah of the alarm speaker they passed under.  So far there was no sign of the other two guards.  Fayth had to hope that by now they were at least two floors above them.  “Don’t you know what they want to do?”
His third attempt to wrench himself free unsuccessful, RQ just stared at Fayth with his mouth compressed into a thin line and didn’t say a word.
Fayth shoved the pistol into the back of his trousers, swapping the hand grasping RQ’s for a grip on his slender wrist instead.  Turning his back on him might be a risk, but at least it’d be harder for him to escape.  “I didn’t think you were an idiot but I guess I was wrong.”

Monday, 31 August 2015

Ready, Set, WRITE! - Wrap Up

Ready, Set, WRITE! is a summer writing challenge hosted by Erin L. FunkAlison MillerKaty UppermanJaime Morrow and Elodie Nowodazkij as a way to encourage participants to get going on their projects and to help keep us accountable.  We share brief updates every Monday so as not to interrupt writing time with blogging.  You can find out more here or check out others' updates over at the hosts' blogs.

1. How I did on last week’s goal(s)

Last week I wanted to write 5,000 words (1,000 handwritten), and finish G is for Gabrys.  And I can say...

I did it!

Well, I didn't do the handwritten one, but that's mostly because I was working my arse off trying to finish Gabrys.  I finished the week with 9,220 words, 2,872 of them yesterday in my desperation to finish it before today.  I think I can live with not handwriting those...!

2. How I did on the summer's goal(s)

My ultimate goals were: Make discernible progress on (or, even better, finish):

  • The Reconstruction of Kirill
  • The Rose Queen
and finish:
  • J is for Jonathan
  • G is for Gabrys

And while I've done nothing on The Rose Queen, I did write a chapter on Reconstruction of Kirill (which to be honest is more than I'd done before the summer!), and I totally finished J is for Jonathan and (finally!) G is for Gabrys!

I also had: Try to make some progress on plotting out Dust & Ash, because I don't think that can go anywhere without one.  And this one didn't really work out, mostly because Camp NaNo happened and I suddenly ended up with unexpected characters and an unexpected plot!  (Not that I'd change Ais and Lirio for the world.)

And as for this one...  And, finally, finish at least one item out of the four crochet projects that're sitting behind me exuding a malevolent aura.  I did finally figure out how to stop it sitting behind me and exuding a malevolent aura...

I dumped it upstairs where it couldn't glare at me instead.  Sorry, crochet.

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

Throwing back his hood, Makary was apparently of the same mind: his sword slid effortlessly from its sheath and batted away Ardashir’s first lunge like it was nothing.  He made short work of the second and third too, but by then Ardashir seemed to have his measure.  Each thrust was parried, and in return each retaliation was deflected like it was nothing.  It was said that LÄ«zahran was the tongue of the wind whispering sand over the dunes, but that truly was the whisper of blade drawn over blade before another clang resounded throughout the close confines of the corridor.
It was beautiful, almost balletic, and Ardashir was gradually winning.  It would only be a matter of minutes before his superior training got the better of Makary, and Rafay was still in no state to fight—
A crash filled the hall.  Ardashir staggered one step, two, then hit the ground face-first.
Just beyond, the quiet sarayi with the close-cropped black hair let the remains of a thick urn clatter from his fingers to the floor.  When he spoke, it was softly-accented LÄ«zahran.  “I have no wish to go back to those small rooms and put up with him again.”
“It’s less problematic than killing him,” Demiah agreed, grabbing Gabrys’s hand and pulling him towards the door.  “Come on, my prince, before we’re drowning in guards.”
It didn’t escape Gabrys’s notice, from the corner of his eye, that both Makary and Rafay gave Ardashir’s senseless body a surreptitious kick.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week

Getting the bloody story finished.  I found writing the excerpt in particular very satisfying.  :p

5. The biggest challenge I faced this summer

Motivation, and getting over my inability to write even a sentence without feeling sick.  And I did it!  And more to the point, I've come out the other side with two new stories I never expected!

6. Something I love about my WIP(s)

I think it has to be that, even if they're troublesome, my characters still do things (generally without me) and I'm just writing to keep up.

And finally...

I don't really do manicures, but I did actually make an effort with my nails for a photo.  They're in a better state than they were when I started RSW actually, so perhaps the increase in writing has agreed with them!  (On that note, over summer I wrote 57,375 words...!)

Thank you to everyone for this summer, it's been so much fun!  To Erin, Alison, Elodie, Katy and Jaime for setting this up for us, and to everyone else for sharing in the experience!

You're all amazing!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

WiPpet Wednesday: too bloody long, and not the way it was planned...

Things are taking a turn for the decidedly weird with G is for Gabrys.  I keep being fascinated that a story that was only supposed to be 300-700 words has become (at last count) over 15,000 and sprung up a cast of characters, including one I absolutely did not expect to see.

I'm not complaining—well, maybe I am a little, because I want to get it out of the way and it's keeping me from other projects—but after all that time where writing even one word felt like pulling teeth, it's just... unexpected.  I really hope I finish it before it gets to 20,000 words though.

After that... well, I'll probably put it where it was supposed to be in the list, then leave it for a while, give it a spot of editing and then use it to see if I can teach myself how to typeset pages for bookbinding.

I'm usually terrible about finishing projects (and computer games, and... most things, actually: I don't like endings), but I'm rather looking forward to this one.  Not least because of how long it's bloody taken...

WiPpet Wednesday

WiPpet Wednesday is a bloghop run by the always-brilliant K. L. Schwengel who I very almost got the wrong blog address for just then.  It encourages writers to share sections from their Works in Progress that relate in some way to the date (the section, not the content), either through simple means or WiPpet Maths.  If you want to find out more, read some brilliant snippets from stories and join in yourself, it's over here.

I won't threaten another section from G is for Gabrys, because I think one person being threatened with a fork was enough for this month!  Instead, since it's the 26th August 2015 (26/08/2015), I'm going to add 2 + 6 = 8, then 8 + 8 = 16.  2 + 0 + 1 = 3, and 5 - 3 = 2... so 16 - 2 = 14 for 14 admittedly quite long paragraphs from The Rose Queen (as ever, sorry about that).

This one contains a profanity warning, because Fayth can be sweary as it is and now he's really panicking...

Fayth screeched to a halt, barely able to breathe. He’d assumed that they’d take him back home before they executed him. Dead bodies were a pain to transport, but they were infinitely more well behaved than the living. RQ might even now be slowly cooling against a plastic-wrapped mattress.  Worse, it might be a bullet to the back of the head, a spray of red across the wall. 
There was no fucking way he was letting that happen. Hope was all he had, weak and desperate and clawing and he was not going to let go of it. He took off at a sprint, hurtling down emergency access stairs three at a time rather than risk the slow, cramped confines of an elevator, and swarmed through corridors like a one-man plague. 
He was, by his own admittedly somewhat shaky estimation, three floors from the danger zone, where prisoners were likely to go in and never come out again, when his pace slackened. Nothing to do with lack of will, or that he’d given up, but damn he was tired. Adrenaline could carry him so far but there was a limit, and Fayth was pretty sure he’d passed that several floors ago. His hand trembled around the gun’s grip. Not for the first time, he envied the bounty hunters and brawlers their body mods and enhanced systems. Taking his nanites for a tune-up was increasingly looking like a fantastic idea, because he couldn’t do this again.  There was a reason he preferred to sneak in to steal things; he’d not had to do this in years, at least, not in such a sustained manner.  Doing it again on the way back might well see him off entirely. 
And still no alarms sounded.  Kirik must really be keen on saving RQ. 
Fayth leaned against the wall, desperate for the chance to gulp down air—and nearly pissed himself in terror as sirens screamed through the hall.  Time was up; now or never.  At least this time it didn’t involve red lighting, that stuff always made him feel ill.  Pushing off from the wall, he broke into what he hoped wasn’t the last sprint of his life. 
The four guards were lightly armed, built like brick walls and rendered RQ barely visible beyond their broad shoulders, and Fayth almost skidded round the corner into them.  If the alarm hadn’t been blaring fit to burst his eardrums there would’ve been the element of surprise.  As it was, they all spun gracefully in his direction, hands falling to their holsters.  And paused, confused. 
He couldn’t blame them really.  They were probably expecting a second incursion from the Orenda, come to steal back their prize.  It was a fair bet they weren’t expecting the man who’d just delivered that prize back to them.  Not one drew their guns. 
“You’ve gotta move,” Fayth bellowed to be heard over the shrieking alert, his mouth moving before his brain could direct it.  “They’re coming for him.” 
“We’re taking him to the containment block,” one wall rumbled uncertainly, his words almost drowned out by the siren.  “He’ll be safe there.” 
Safe?  Lie of the year right there.  “Nah, man, they’re expecting that.  They need you upstairs, fight them off.  I’ll hide him ’til it’s done.” 
From beyond the shield of shoulders, he thought he saw RQ’s sceptical expression, a sentiment echoed by the guards.  One—must be the leader—turned to the others, quickly ordering two to peel off and head back, before returning his attention to Fayth.  His voice rumbled below the level of the alarm; Fayth could feel it roll through his stomach.  “They’ll help deal with them, don’t worry.  We’ll carry on here, so you can get back to your ship now.” 
Shit damn crap, this wasn’t going how he wanted.  “You don’t think you’re being a bit predictable?  I knew where to find you, so they’re bound to.” 
“This time, we’re prepared for them,” the leader said, turning away.  “Run along.” 
Fine,” Fayth grumbled, and shot the man in the knee.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Ready, Set, WRITE! - Week Twelve

Ready, Set, WRITE! is a summer writing challenge hosted by Erin L. FunkAlison MillerKaty UppermanJaime Morrow and Elodie Nowodazkij as a way to encourage participants to get going on their projects and to help keep us accountable.  We share brief updates every Monday so as not to interrupt writing time with blogging.  You can find out more here or check out others' updates over at the hosts' blogs.

1. How I did on last week’s goal(s)

Last week I wanted to write 5,000 words (1,000 handwritten), and finish G is for Gabrys.  I... pretty much failed on all counts.  I wrote 4,757 words (so not too far off), of which 815 were handwritten (because my hands were starting to itch), and although they were all on Gabrys, I still haven't finished it (though the plot has advanced).

2. My goal(s) for this week

Finish G is for Gabrys.  I only have one mapped out plot-point left, then I have to figure out the ending.  It was one of my summer goals and by gods I will do it, even if it is now 11,600 words long when it was only supposed to be 300-700.

Also, write 5,000 words, of which 1,000 should be handwritten.

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

There was something so sad in the words, so helpless in his face; Gabrys found himself leaning forward, desperate to do something, anything, that might remove it.  He was only aware of his intentions himself when his lips brushed over Demiah’s, feeling their soft warmth and sweetness.
It would have been fully deserved if the sarayi slapped him for his forwardness.  Instead Gabrys felt a sharp intake of breath, then the kiss was returned.  Only briefly, but enough that he could feel everything in it that was so lacking from every moment Ardashir touched him.
When they parted, the faint smile was back on Demiah’s lips, and Gabrys fancied it looked slightly happier this time.  “That was... unexpected, my prince.”
“I’m sorry.  I—If you want me to never do anything of the sort again, I just—”
The warmth of Demiah’s palm caressing his cheek startled him into silence.  “I didn’t say that, my prince.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week

Summoning the willpower to write.  Turns out handwriting keeps me away from the perils of the internet, to which I turn every time I run out of steam in a sentence or paragraph...

5. Something I love about my WIP

That it went from something that was supposed to be small, into... well, this.  I have no idea where this plot came from.  Also, that it finally taught me the word for someone in a harem (which I then promptly disregarded for most of the story).

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

WiPpet Wednesday: a mishmash and a familiar face

It was a weird week last week.  There's always something a little depressing about getting older, offset somewhat by the fact I'm always overestimating how old I actually am, so yet again this year I realised I'm at least year younger than I thought.  (Two years out this year, which was a relief.)

Never did work out if it's because I'm terrible at maths, or if I'm just too lazy to pay attention.

There's something odd about the end of August in England when the weather becomes changeable.  The days seem to become a blur, which hasn't really helped things.  It came as a bit of a surprise that it's even Wednesday today.

In other news, I've finally started reading the Game of Thrones books one of my NaNoers gave me at least a year ago and I'm enjoying the first book so far, but there's something daunting when you look down and go "oh, I'm on page 30 already", only to realise that, yeah, great, but you've got another 800 to go...

WiPpet Wednesday

It's that awesome time of the week again: the blog hop hosted by the ever-brilliant K. L. Schwengel where participants post sections of their Works in Progress that in some way, either through simple links or complicated WiPpet math, relate to the date.  You can find out more, read other blogs and take part yourself over heeeeere.

You know, I've been working quite hard lately on my one outstanding Blogging From A-Z post, G is for Gabrys, and I'm actually starting to make progress now.  Perhaps it'd make more sense if I shared a snippet from—

...I think there's a couple of people who'd hunt me down and strangle me if I did that right now.  :p  (Though that'd be one way to get to meet people in the flesh!)

So, since it's the 19th August 2015 (19/08/2015), my maths is 1 + 9 = 10;  2 + 0 + 1 + 5 = 8; 8 ÷ 8 = 1.  10 + 1 is 11, for 11 paragraphs.

Last week we left Corliss sulking off onto his new task, so this week we're returning to Fayth.  When we left him, he'd been aimlessly pushing some awful not-cream cake around a plate, only to be startled by a crewman letting slip that RQ was being returned solely for his execution.

The crewman—Kirik, like knowing his name would stop Fayth threatening him; a sorely deluded man—didn’t waste time putting up a fight, and for that Fayth was grateful. If it wasn’t for the way his hands shook as he opened the door to the armoury Fayth would have sworn he’d wanted him to mount a rescue. He certainly didn’t question the bigger man’s actions. Maybe he realised that Fayth wouldn’t tell him even if he asked. Telling would require knowing why in the first place, and Fayth didn’t want to sit around long enough to analyse that particular question.
Then, gun in hand, he was off and running, leaving Kirik behind with with three tiny red marks on his neck and a bemused expression on his face.
Fayth just hoped Kirik didn’t feel the need to tell anyone how he’d been threatened with death by fork.
No alarms sounded as he pounded through the corridors. The few crewmen he saw passed in a blur, startled expressions frozen with wide eyes and O-shaped mouths. Either they didn’t see the gun or strange men charging through hallways while armed was an alarming but regular occurrence. He hoped it was the former, not the latter.
Damnit, why was it so hard to find Pynes’ office a second time round? He was sure he’d been up there and round there, but it just led to more interminable corridors and if there was one thing the month had supplied more than enough of already, it was interminable corridors.
It was useless, he’d never find them like this. He’d be lucky if Pynes and RQ were even in the same room now.
Room. They wouldn’t be in the same room, because Pynes would want to move RQ somewhere safer, where even if RQ heard what would happen and decided to make a run for it, he’d never manage to escape.
Fayth swore loudly and spun on his heel, pelting back down the corridor again.
Waystations all looked the same. He’d considered it a design flaw in the past—and strictly speaking it was, from a criminal standpoint; if you knew one you knew them all even if you did have a tendency to become geographically embarrassed now and again—but right now he could kiss Pynes. What he’d chosen as a simple stopover on his way back to God knew where was about to make Fayth’s life significantly easier.
Secure cells and other important rooms were usually placed at the bottom of the station, in the middle and far away from the insecure outside edge. It hadn’t been that long, even if he was pretty sure Pynes’ office had been only halfway up the station, two levels from the docking bays. They couldn’t have taken RQ all the way down and in by now, locked him away where Fayth couldn’t get at him even if he could get Kirik to help him again. Please God, don’t let them have managed it...
What if they’d already done it?

Monday, 17 August 2015

Ready, Set, WRITE! - Week Eleven

Ready, Set, WRITE! is a summer writing challenge hosted by Erin L. FunkAlison MillerKaty UppermanJaime Morrow and Elodie Nowodazkij as a way to encourage participants to get going on their projects and to help keep us accountable.  We share brief updates every Monday so as not to interrupt writing time with blogging.  You can find out more here or check out others' updates over at the hosts' blogs.

1. How I did on last week’s goal(s)

Last week I'd intended to write 5,000 words, 1,000 of which were to be handwritten, and I'd wanted to finish G is for Gabrys.  I actually wrote 6,880 words, of which 5,340 were handwritten and 1,540 were on Gabrys.  Needless to say... I didn't finish Gabrys.

2. My goal(s) for this week

Finish G is for Gabrys.  And maybe write a little on the Camp NaNo project...  In short, the same as last week: write 5,000 words, 1,000 of which should be handwritten, finish that damn story.

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

His stomach clenched.  He’d been too shocked, too upset, to realise before.  But he’d be damned if this didn’t make him sound—oh shit—like the most likely culprit.  From the tenseness behind him, he wasn’t the only one arriving at this conclusion.  And how could he blame Ais for it when he’d stabbed him, no matter how lightly, just for saying he loved him.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week

My birthday was on Saturday, but since it's not really a birthday if you don't get time off from work (and I was maybe a little resentful it fell on my one day off a week!) I had Friday off too and we went out.  I didn't get much done either day, but they were fun.

EDIT: Also, unexpected sequelitis.  I heard ADHDS's The Informant and suddenly realised what Lirio and Ais were doing after the end of the story.  It's frustrating, I don't/didn't want to write a sequel!

5. Something I love about my WIP

That Lirio has just spent almost all of this section completely naked.  Ridiculous, but it amuses me nonetheless.  And also that his mental anguish turns out to be remarkably good for word count.