Happy Halloween!

It’s October 31st! And you know what that means! It is not only the last free day any WriMo’s are going to have until December 1st but also it is Halloween! I love Halloween. The food, the parties, the costumes, scaring kids witless if possible… Yes, I am a cruel woman when I want to be!

So to get you all set up for a scary night in, I thought I would post some links to some scary stories and some fun Halloween-inspired science.

Though I am not a big fan of scary stories if I am being honest, I do enjoy supernatural and paranormal stories and who could resist the lovely David Tennant reading some tales about vampires? Tennant News over on BlogSpot have posted links to audio files of David reading some vampire tales and you can find those here!

Also on BlogSpot, you will find a thrilling psychological horror to scare yourself with written by my good friend, Zoe Adams! You can find that story here. I warn you now, her work will surely give you some ghoulish nightmares!

Meanwhile, over on YouTube, the Royal Institution has posted a video demonstrating a couple of great demos using a pumpkin! Want to see a flaming pumpkin or a vomiting one?!  Have a look here:

James May meanwhile on the Head Squeeze Channel has shown how Uncle Fester from the Addams Family possibly lit up his light bulb in his mouth! This video also includes a rap about Michael Faraday:

He has also been involved in a little Trick and Treating which you can experience here:

And don’t forget to check out Google’s interactive Halloween doodle. I’ve had a play with it and it is pretty good.

With this lot, you should have a great night in I hope! Enjoy!

 

Advertisements

Are witches becoming popular again?

Cover of "The Worst Witch (Young Puffin S...

Cover via Amazon

Okay, this is probably going to be at odds with other articles you will see around the web but a couple of days ago, I came across a Guardian article talking about witchcraft and witches returning to popular culture in the wake of the Vampires and Werewolves trend. You can read it for yourself here.

The article mentions that various US television networks are starting to show different shows with witch protagonists, suggesting that this is the place that the trend is showing the strongest.

The only thing I took from it originally (it was late at night when I first read it) was the fact that Jill Murphy had published a new Worst Witch book. Not really surprising since she has released new books in the series recently however I did not recognise any of the other books or authors mentioned.

Today, I went to my local Waterstones and as I was browsing and picking up a book (or four!), I found myself unconsciously looking for books about witches. The result? I saw nothing to vindicate The Guardian’s article. I realise it is probably a trend that is just starting to find its feet but if there is a rising interest in books and other media about witches, why can’t I seem to see or find media about witches? Even in HMV, when looking, I couldn’t find anything about witches, not even on the shelves they had set aside for Halloween.

This evening, I returned to the article in question and re-read it. The result was the same. I decided to do some digging and had a look at the Waterstones and WH Smith websites in their best sellers generic listings and the best sellers for fantasy. Nothing.

The only patterns I could find was that vampire books are still popular and other authors, who had always been popular, like Terry Pratchett and Ben Aaronovitch, were still up there in the best sellers lists. A look on Orbit UK, Puffin and Gollancz future publishing schedules show none of this supposed trend. All I found was the tail end of the vampires craze and new books from established authors and series. (This is generalised I hasten to stress!)

So it has got me thinking about whether witches are becoming popular again or if, actually, witches (and wizards) had always been popular in their own way and had never really gone away?

I feel it is a valid question to ask.

A very brief survey of some of my friends from NaNoWriMo (just over 24 hours away!)  revealed that they thought that has been a small rise in popularity but it could easily be an offshoot to the vampires craze. Also, confirming what I suspected, was the fact that paranormal creatures and beings had never really gone out of style. It’s just that the focus of attention shifts.

Cover of "Harry Potter and the Philosophe...

Cover of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

The article mentions Charmed from the late 1990’s and that got me thinking about the fact that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released in 1997, during the same time period. The Harry Potter series has gone from strength to strength and continued being popular long after the end of witches popularity. The series has been so popular it has spawned spin-off books, a film series, a theme park and many other types of merchandise and not least of all, the recent news of JK Rowling wanting to return to the world of Potter and start writing a new spin-off series.

In the adults market, Ben Aaronovitch has gained success with his Peter Grant novels, featuring a London police officer and the country’s only remaining wizard. As well as them, there has also been Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus novels. These are just two series that I read that feature wizards and witches (though in Jacka’s books, they are known as mages).

Then there are the popular Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher, the only wizard in the phone book. These books are on my to read list and Butcher has recently released a new book in the series.

So books about witches and wizards have always been popular, bubbling away beneath the hubbub of the vampire’s (and werewolves) craze. They sell and create series. Jacka has talked about this in his most recent blog post. He is talking about urban fantasy books in general but his comments are correct: “For every Sookie Stackhouse or Dresden Files, there are twenty or thirty urban fantasy series that fizzle out” (Jacka, Benedict. (2013). Alex Verus: The Future (Continued). [Online]. Available at http://benedictjacka.co.uk/2013/10/25/alex-verus-the-future-continued/).

So maybe witches are not becoming popular again as suggested in the Guardian article but instead the spotlight and attention is being shifted to a new type of character within the fantasy genre. Whilst talking with my friends about this, I had the thought that perhaps that maybe the reason I had not seen much in the way of different media having prominent witch characters is that perhaps we are just on the cusp of a new craze. I put this theory to them and they agreed that perhaps, that is the case.

I think that is my theory then. We are on the cusp of a new craze, a craze that is just starting to spread its wings. The interest in these types of books and stories have always been there but it’s now going to experience a new resurgence and people are just beginning to notice.

Or perhaps, it’s just something that is going to fizzle out to nothing.

 

Urban Fantasy versus Paranormal Romance

Now, this isn’t something I have thought too deeply about but perhaps I should as a (primarily) fantasy writer who is looking to get published. Especially in recent years, my work has gone from high fantasy to urban to low and, inevitably with me, all them will include a romantic story somewhere along the way. So is my work paranormal romance or is it a fantasy story with a romantic storyline? I don’t know to be honest.

Whilst reading this, it got me thinking about the Mills & Boon/Harlequin Nocturne books. These seem to straddle the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance genre line (if there is one) but somehow, I think maybe the two genre’s just go so far hand in hand that they should be classed as one and the same when appropriate naturally. In some case’s it is appropriate to delineate between the two, especially in Michele Hauf’s Moon Kissed and After The Kiss in my opinion, since she seems to focus more on the romance than any real story, whilst I think the Mills & Boon Nocturne novel that really holds the two genre’s in balance is Vivi Anna’s The Vampire’s Kiss novel.

 

Where Landsquid Fear to Tread

You know, despite all the subgenre studies we’ve done here, I still have a hard time differentiating between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. I mean, logically, I can spout off definitions but I have a hard time with actual books because a lot of times they read very similar to each other.

Urban fantasy is fantasy that takes place in a city. It isn’t necessarily contemporary. And paranormal romance is just a romance with paranormal elements. There’s a lot of variables on both–time period, setting, types of fantastical/paranormal elements, etc.

But from what I’ve seen, both tend to be modern-day in urban environments. And both tend to have a romance plot/subplot and a non-romance plot/subplot, and often times they seem to be of almost equal importance.

I’ve run into this in other places as well, particularly between cozy mysteries and romance. A lot of it seems to come down…

View original post 119 more words

CSI:NY and NaNoWriMo and Ramblings…

Okay, so sorry for not posting in a while. I know I have only been reblogging stuff but I have been busy, yet not busy, if that makes any sense. As indicated by the title, I will be just rambling a bit in this and I apologise wholeheartedly. So if you don’t want to read my rambling, you are more than welcome not to read any further.

In the last few weeks, I have been working hard and preparing for graduation (which was last Friday), including doing my physiotherapy to get my knee into a position that I could go and now I am sort of trying to figure out what to do with myself, since job hunting is proving difficult (I haven’t really seen this “improvement in the jobs market” that the papers and news seem to keep mentioning) and I am still recovering from my knee dislocation. It sort of diminishes what I can really apply for whilst my knee is still a bit unsteady, I can only stand for so long, only move so fast and use stairs in a certain way. Not exactly a good place to be in when many of the local jobs at the moment are shop assistant types of ones where there is a lot of standing around to be done, at the very least. As well as that, I am dog-sitting my mum’s pup through the day when she is at work (including some dog training) and that seems to be taking up a lot of my time despite the dog being content enough to run around and play by herself.

I am also preparing to taking part in NaNoWriMo as some of you folks will know. Well, I say preparing, I should say I am still unsure what exactly is going to happen in my story and how it ends. I am just, unclear, what to do with it, which is not a good thing. I do know what I want to say and what themes and issues I want to raise with it but as for real planning, detailed planning, I have a mage character, her familiar and a possible friend for the character. The friend only announced himself today so I am still trying to figure out who he is exactly. Other than that, it is very unclear and murky if you will. I am also trying to work on the Autumn Writing Challenge and use it to help me plan a bit but that isn’t going too well either. This is not looking good for NaNo is it?

Just to clarify, the reblogs I have posted to try to keep the blog alive are ones I hop are inspiring and helpful to folks and are keeping with what I want to do with this blog! There’s another element to my planning that I probably could be getting on with and could help with the actual story planning: world building. Despite taking place in this world, the story is set on an island populated almost entirely by mages and their familiars. I could easily be working on the society and the politics of the island as they are probably going to be VERY important to my novel and the story, how the schools and educational system are set up and ran since the MC, main character, is going back initially to teach in the island’s schools and I also need to explain a thing or two about her education, how they dress, how the magic works and there are probably a load of other things I also need to consider!

I don’t even know what the island is going to even be called!

I know for definite some of the island’s traditions and it’s society is going to be based, even just loosely on 1900 to 1960’s Britain with many of the trappings of modern life. Possibly why I have been reading the Jennifer Worth book, In The Midst of Life, and re-watching the Call the Midwife series. I also vaguely know that the last episodes of CSI: New York are probably going to influence how the story develops and pans out

Mac Taylor

Gary Sinese as Mac Taylor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night saw the end of an era with CSI: New York finishing its last ever season here in the UK and I am not embarrassed to say it caused me to cry a lot (with the dog giving it some, what the heck!) and that it brings a lump to my throat now just thinking about it. Gary Sinese will always be Det. Mac Taylor in my eyes. Just thinking about how we will never see how Lindsay and Danny’s kids will grow up, how Flack’s relationship goes or even Mac’s wedding. Then there is also Sid’s illness! Oh that had me blubbing as well! Some spoilers ahead. I will try to keep them as minimal as possible but don’t say you haven’t been warned! It was certainly intense and made me think of the London Riots and how they were sparked. There did seem to be some parallels and made me wonder if the scriptwriter had actually based, at least partly, the story on the Riots here in the UK. I know that the riots and the episode last night could actually feed into the story for NaNo and how it ends possibly. Or at least play a part in the climax of the story.

This last season of CSI: New York has been intense, funny, enjoyable and very, very emotional all in just a few episodes. These emotions were heightened further by the fact that we all knew that these episodes would be the very last!

I still hold out hope though that we will see all three CSI teams (with living characters) return to our screens in one big, explosive episode or even movie. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see Mac, Horatio and Grissom all together interacting? That would be amazing in my opinion!

To ease some of my boredom and maybe even help with planning, I am hoping to try out a new recipe this week. Now, you guys might not know that I really enjoy baking and the washing up afterwards bizarrely.  I actually find it oddly peaceful and because I don’t actually have to think too much about what I am dong, it gives me time to think about life and has sometimes helped me get through writer’s block. So who knows? It might help with NaNo. Anyway, I am hoping to make a chocolate mousse and theme it around Halloween. (I really enjoy Halloween and not just for the cheap chocolate on November 1st!) It’s a recipe I have seen in a magazine for one of the big supermarkets and I am hoping to give it a try soon. At the very least, it will help me figure out how I can do my normal baking with a pup around my feet. Who knows? It might give me the confidence to try a couple of other new recipes! But yeah, this is what is going on in my life at the moment. Just sort of figuring out what to do with myself.

Understanding the ‘Tolkien effect’ – and making it work for you

Matthew Wright

One of the plus sides of a contest like National November Writing Month is the enforced deadline. Writers have to finish to time – which is the nature of writing, once you have a publisher and contract deadlines. Mostly.

1197094932257185876johnny_automatic_books_svg_medThe greatest challenge when writing anything is knowing when it’s over – knowing when to stop working on your project. Some authors don’t, including J R R Tolkien who kept revising his material even after it was published. The quality kept going up with every iteration, with stunning results (I am a HUGE Tolkien fan). We can’t complain about that. But it meant very few of Tolkien’s books and stories were published in his lifetime.

Winston Churchill crashed into the other problem. He was finally persuaded to send his history of the Second World War to his publishers – they were screaming for it – but he pursued the manuscript with…

View original post 351 more words

Nine Writing Lessons You Can Learn From Cats

Some good advice from our feline friends.

Writers Write, Right?

1. Every realistic character needs a dark side.


2. It’s often the tiny things that make great stories.


3. Characters have to fail, or else it isn’t interesting.


4. Sometimes, it’s best to summarize.


5. Every author, even the best of them, will get told “no” at some point in their career.

WordpressStock20
6. Small things in the story can have big impacts.


7. Even the worst villains have a personality beneath all that evil.


8. Proper research makes a story feel more realistic.


9. Mustaches make every novel better.

View original post

World Building: Cultures

Some good points to consider if you are doing any type of world building.

Writer Block

     By culture I am referring to the distinct ways that a group lives their lives instead of the group’s symbols and creative aspects. Know the differences between the cultures in your world allows for both diversity and potential conflict. Knowing the specifics of a particular character’s cuture does the same – as well as helps you bring that character to unique life.

      As a reminder, culture traits are generalities – they are shared by most people in the culture but are shared to different degrees. There is still room for variation within a group even when they share language and dialect, aesthetics, gender expectations, social structure, and religious practices. Whether you are trying to understand your character’s surface culture or are trying to create new cultures, these are all key elements to examine. And of course a person can belong to multiple cultures and subcultures.

  • Dialect: Writers…

View original post 279 more words