Belated #Writing Update

Sherlock WritingCurrent Word Count: 7,286 words

Firstly, sorry for the disappearing act over the last fortnight. A case of writers block combined with life stuff has meant that I haven’t blogged here and writing has slowed to a snail’s pace. Granted, I have increased by word count by about 3,000 words but those words are still mostly world building.

My FMC has discovered that her family and that of her grandfather’s business partner are more linked than she had realised but that raised more questions for her. I ended up taking a detour whilst figuring out part of the answer for some of those questions which led to me reconsidering a storyline and the pairings for the story, wrote an extra little thing, realised I was going down the wrong road, and deciding to go back to the original ideas.

After all that, I returned to being stuck and having no idea where to go next. Writing ended up taking a back seat whilst I dealt with IRL stuff. Yesterday though, something clicked and I got 753 words written. Those words led to the revelation of the cat familiars name, Constantine, and that he has a dark personality but can also act like a teenage girl. I commented on Twitter that the Skull-in-a-jar from Lockwood & Co. is proving rather influential of the cat. Whether that continues, I will just have to see. I am re-reading Hollow Boy at the moment so it is possible.

The fact I have written anything is partly because I have accepted that I will have to jump over some time to be able to write. This hopefully will mean I will be able to get on with the bulk of the story much quicker though I know have another problem upcoming that will stop me once more. The main thing is that I am writing again.

Hopefully everyone else’s writing has been more fruitful than my own. Here’s to a better end of the month, even if it is just one or two words.

#Writing Update

3278e-writerJust a quick update.

It’s been 5 days since NaNoWriMo finished and I have written just 590 words all together. I think it’s the post-NaNo Blues combined with life being very busy. I have written a little on my Camp story with the dark witch at school, re-read some of it to reacquaint myself with it and have started writing something that happens a few years later with the characters, taking some inspiration from the latest Lockwood & Co. novel, Hallow Boy.

I am just glad to be writing I think and it is going to be my main aim for this month I think, just to keep writing. I know I can be very tired in December so anything I do will just be a bonus at the moment. How are you getting on? Is December the hardest or easiest month for you to write in or somewhere in between? Do you have any aims for this week or month? Don’t be afraid to comment below.

The Confessions of a Writer

Been tagged to do this by Niina at Northern Chapters so I figured I would give it a go.

d7a3e-writing

Rules of the tag:

  • Please link back to A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly’s post, so that the original rules are always accessible to anyone who is curious and wants to participate!
  • Acknowledge the person who tagged you in your post.
  • Tag your friends and fellow writers – it’s up to you how many!

The Confessions of a Writer Tag was created by Nicolette at A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly. It is a ‘get-to-know’ the writer interview tag, dedicated to spotlighting the creative process, works in progress, and connecting to other writers.


 

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?

I aspired to be many things as a kid from a vet to a nurse to a pop star, all the usual little girl ambitions. I wasn’t exactly the brightest bulb in the pack at the time and had no interest in anything remotely academic. It took a teacher pointing out I was good at writing that something seemed to start to click in my mind. I did start writing but the switch wasn’t fully turned on though until I discovered the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. After that, everything clicked into place.

What genre do you write?

I gravitate mostly to fantasy and crime with romance sub plots in most of my stories. Family drama, social commentary and thriller also make appearances in a few of my stories, something that didn’t hit me until a tutor pointed it out. I have attempted forays into the science fiction genre but they rarely work out well to be honest.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?

I’m working on my magic school story from July Camp NaNoWriMo. Anyone who follows my blog will know it started just from an idea after a failed sci-fi story and has continued since then. The story revolves around a teen girl, coming from a dark magic family involved in criminality, trying to escape and be different. Not sure what I will do with the story later. We’ll see.

What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

The first story I chose to write was a fan fiction based on Flint The Time Detective, about one of the detectives called Merlock Holmes and his daughter. It never was finished and is absolutely awful, with stuff borrowed from the Cardcaptors/Card Captor Sakura, Lord of the Rings and the Malory Towers series to name but a few. It did have the first version of the school my FMC from the above answer attends so it was not all bad really.

What’s the best part about writing?

Creating new things and exploring the world through the written word. One day, I want to explore the world myself, not just through stories.

What’s the worst part about writing?

Hitting a wall in the creation of the first draft then editing and rewriting. Ugh! Necessary but still hate it.

What’s the name of your favourite character and why? (This can be from a book by another author or from your own work. Book crushes are perfectly acceptable here as well).

Oh! I have no idea! I love characters like Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third from the How To Train Your Dragon books by Cressida Cowell because he’s not your typical hero, and Hermione Granger, because she was smart and her description is very similar to how I was as a kid. Those sorts of characters appeal to me.

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

I tend to write in the evening most days because it is the only free time I have available to me in a typical day but I do prefer to write and work on an afternoon. I’ve run my errands, had something to eat and drink, checked the news and e-mail, etc. I can just sit and write (and watch some YouTube and television). It’s a routine that was developed at university and has proven the most productive.

Did you go to college for writing? Or if you haven’t been to college yet, do you plan to?

I did Professional Writing at university (or college as it is in the USA), with the idea that it would set me up not just for writing in general, but was applicable to other jobs too. I’m not working as a writer in any capacity at the moment sadly but I do have ideas and career plans that relate to writing, even just part-time.

What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors, or grammar errors?

Has to be grammar mainly but the others drive me up the wall too, especially if it is in a document or something that you would expect to be correctly spelt, punctuated, grammar checked and formatted correctly.

What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?

It’s actually a philosophy quote by Confucius that applies to every part of life: “It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.” In other words, keep writing!

What advice would you give to another writer?

I hate the advice write what you know. You could write about everything you know very easily and quickly and end up stuck. I prefer the advice write not what you know, but what you would like to find out about. Write about the things that you want to find out about. The world is a big place so explore it!

What are your favourite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?

My friends are usually my first port of call for help but I also follow a lot of Tumblr prompt and advice blogs, such as Write World and Writing Cafe, as well as seasonal picture blogs that have some stunning picture ripe for prompts, Rayne Hall’s Twitter (her books are brilliant too) and love using Seventh Sanctum.

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

Love to read, watch a lot of TV, films and stand up comedy, like Call The Midwife, The Big Bang Theory, How To Train Your Dragon 1 and 2 (I love Toothless!) and comedians like Russell Howard, baking and chatting to friends.

What is the best book you’ve read this year?

This year has to be Lockwood & Co: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud! Second in the series with a cliffhanger to match the first book, The Screaming Staircase. I am in love with this series!

What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?

Has to be Kingsman: The Secret Service. The church scene! The church scene!

What is your favourite book or series of all time?

It changes but I do default to Chinese Cinderella and the Secret Dragon Society by Adeline Yen Mah. Mah weaves a beautiful story of a girl playing her part in World War 2 in occupied Shanghai with wonderful teachings from Chinese philosophy and culture.

Who is your favourite author?

My all time favourite is JK Rowling as she is also my heroine.

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?

Mostly just to write, as I haven’t been in a place to do so for a while due to life. More focused goals are to hopefully get my second NaNoWriMo win and to keep writing my Camp story.

Where else can we find you online?

Aside from here, my main ones are Tumblr and Twitter but you can also find me on NaNoWriMo.


 

Finished! I am tagging Kit from Where Landsquids Fear To Tread, Lizzie from mylittlebookblog, Diane from Tales from Baggins Bottom and Charles from Legends of Windemere. Anyone who I haven’t tagged but would like to do this, go for it!

Summertime Madness Book Tag

Quite unexpectedly, I got tagged for this challenge by Amanda N. Butler.

Anyone who knows me will know I am not actually a Summer type of person. Give me rain, Autumn leaves, snow and Winter’s cool embrace! That’s when I am at my happiest! But for now, let’s see how I get on with this challenge:

Show a book with a summery cover.

Have to go with Bloodlust by Alex Duval, the first book in the Vampire Beach series. When Jason Freeman’s family moves to the exclusive DeVere Heights area of Malibu, he finds himself surrounded by the most beautiful people he has ever seen but is there more them than meets the eye? I think this might have been the first teen book I read in high school, during the Twilight/vampire craze and made for a nice change.

Pick a fictional place that would be the perfect destination for a summer holiday.

This has taken some thinking about but I think the place I would go bizarrely is Lockwood & Co.’s haunted Britain. I know it’s not a destination but I would love to explore it and discover what is happening outside of London. We get some idea what is going outside of London during the first book when Lucy talks about her road to joining Lockwood and George.

 

You’re about to go on a flight for your summer holidays but you want to read a book that lasts the whole flight. What novella do you choose?

Probably Hotel Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones. This is not exactly a story as such as every story told and all the information, compressed into one person’s 24 hour shift, are all true we are told and only the names of the guilty have been changed. It shines a light on the human condition when we step into a hotel of any sort and any star rating.

You have a case of summertime sadness – what book do you pick to shine a smile on your face?

Had a hard time deciding this one as I have a few books that make me laugh but the one that is always at hand it seems is Texts From Dog by October Jones. Inspired by the Tumblr blog, this book compiles the best-loved “texts” from dog, contemplating everything from bath time to the relationship man and man’s best friend.

You’re sitting at the beach all alone…which fictional character would be your beach babe?

This was a tough one but I think I would go with Henry Fitzroy, the bastard son of King Henry VII, from Tanya Huff’s Vicki Nelson series. Blood Price details one of Vicki’s PI cases where she is investigating a series of murders and comes across Henry, who is investigating to try to protect his vampire secret. Of course that would mean the beach at night but if he appears in the form Kyle Schmid, who played him in the Blood Ties TV adaptation, that’s fine by me!

To match your ice cream, you want an icy cool sidekick! Which fictional sidekick do you pick?

Out of two demon possibilities, I think I would go with Sebastian, Lord Phantomhive’s one Hell of a Butler from the Black Butler series. Tied by contract to little Earl Ciel Phantomhive, the Queen’s Guard Dog, Sebastian is out to help Ciel find the people who killed his parents, burnt down his home and hurt him. Once Ciel has his revenge, Sebastian will devour his soul.

The other demon I considered was Eclipse from Demon Diary.

And I am tagging Legends of Windemere’s Charles YallowitzTales From Baggins Bottom’s Diane Wordsworth and MyLittleBookBlog’s Lizzy Baldwin. Hope you guys don’t mind.

Book Review: Lockwood & Co., The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Yes! It is my first book review in a while!

Image: GoodSearch/Wikipedia

Lucy Carlyle is the newest Agent to join the most ramshackle psychical agency in London. Charged with dealing with the Problem that has plagued an alternative Britain for the past 50 years, she finds herself working with the mysterious Anthony Lockwood and the annoying, rotund George Cubbins to uncover the answer to a decades old murder case and a mysterious screaming staircase in the most haunted house in Britain! Two big cases for an agency that struggles with the most routine of cases…

This book is a fresh take on the urban fantasy genre for children. Whilst still centred on London, the reader is drawn in through the first person narration of Lucy Carlyle to learn about this alternative universe (AU) Britain where ghost hauntings have been increasing for 50 years and children with special Talents (Listening, Sight and Touch) join and train with psychical agencies to vanquish hauntings for people. The novel is split into four parts and does rely on the reader being willing to flip back and forth from the story, to the glossary at the end and back again or having at least a common knowledge base to understand the book. There are two distinct story lines in the book that are satisfactory tied up at the end.

Stroud also seems to be trying to hook readers into the series for the long haul. This book, the first of a series, has some small sub plots that Stroud appears to be setting up ready to be dealt with over the course of a series, particularly revolving around Lockwood and his past. The ending of the book also tries to hook the reader in with a new plot line linking directly to some character develops with Lucy to make sure they read the next book to find out more. This has certainly worked as I have already started looking to getting the next book when I can.

Unfortunately, I am not sure introducing new plot points at the end was a good idea. I will grant Stroud is an established author (he has already found success with the Bartimaeus series) so can probably get away with breaking the rule that says don’t introduce new plots or characters towards the end of the story but I feel that in this instance, it was completely unnecessary and would probably have been better placed nearer the start when set up with Lockwood started.

I have previous mentioned that the book requires a reader willing to either be flipping back and forth between the story and the glossary or have a common knowledge base on ghost hunting and this is something else I have a problem with. It is very hard to initially get into the book because the reader is constantly having to break the suspension of disbelief to look up terms. This could lead to readers potentially abandoning the book before getting to part two of the book where background information, about Lucy, the AU Britain and many other things are explained. This makes the story very badly organised in my view and possibly broken back. The first part is probably Stroud’s attempt to draw the reader in right from the start but I don’t believe it has worked as well as maybe he wanted.

This makes my concerns about having another series of Urban Fantasy books set in London rather redundant.

The Screaming Staircase is a wonderful start to a new series and is very different from other books on the market for both children’s and adults. It draws on the traditions of the genre whilst adding a new twist and encouraging readers to keep reading. I have no doubt that Stroud will continue to deliver interesting novels, develop the characters as they get older and, hopefully, will develop the world it is set in. A series to watch I think.