Category Archives: Blogging

Is September the New New Year?

AutumnNormally I’m writing about the news in the publishing world right now. Normally, this post will have gone out on a Monday morning after being written (because I’m very organised) on a Sunday. Well, this weekend involved a wedding in the West Country and a cabaret show in London and a last-train-home situation on a Sunday night. So nothing got written. Well done me. Continue reading

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Hey it’s Favourite Femmes Day

No blog post here today – I’m insisting you head over to see my latest donation to the astounding Searching for SuperWomen!

Not only does it have a new home, a new logo and banner (how cute are they!?), and a Facebook page, it has loads and loads of exciting guests dropping by for some brilliant posts!

Today is my turn for listing my Fave Femme… I wonder who it is…

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A Blank Page

WritingIt’s 6.10am. I’ve just been staring at a blank screen for a good 20 minutes now, and add that on to last night’s staring match, you’ve got yourself a good hour and a half of writing nothing.

Writing is a compulsion for me. It’s strange not to write. But some days, the words just don’t appear. It’s increasingly frustrating as all that energy you had the day before (or even the hour before) has drained away and left you feeling a bit blank. Continue reading

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I’ve Met Someone

ApocalypseGosh-darn it. Curses. Fiddlesticks.

And all that.*

So it turns out my imagination doesn’t really like to stay with one thing for too long. I was driving home yesterday listening to Radioactive by Imagine Dragons (really love this song – you go and listen, and I’ll wait here…) Continue reading

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Return from Oz … With a Few Choice Words

Okay, well not quite. But I have returned from oblivion, briefly, to treat you with a few fresh posts.

Has it really been as long as all this!? I apologise, dear readers, for leaving you for such a long time. It’s been a whirlwind. I’ve missed you! Have you missed me?

Well, for your delectation, today, I have a quick extract of writing, and a book review. But which should come first? Well, my lovely ones, read on for a peek into what I’ve been doing all this time!

However, she knew there would be one last task she needed to complete before leaving Aquene. She donned her cloak again, this time leaving by the front door. She noted a castleguard lingering on the corner of the street, but she ignored him, and strode on by, not looking up as she passed the gates to the King’s Court, past the statue of the King of the First Dynasty and down the King’s Road. King’s Road was the direct path between The Towers and the King’s Court, and was lined with the wealthiest of the shops and taverns. The pennants of high-powered Houses and Guilds hung from windows that glittered in the sunshine.

Sanoh smiled and greeted faces she recognised, careful to seem as normal as she could manage, but not enough to stop and talk. She knew the castleguard would be following her. But her business wasn’t on King’s Road. It was on one of the lesser streets – past the square courtyard of eateries, and beyond the alley of jewellers. It was in the healing area of Aquene that Sanoh needed. There was an apothecary, a respectable member of the Guild, that the House of Ember had been using for years for all remedies – common and uncommon.

She entered the cool dark of the shop and smiled at the woman behind the table there.

“How good to see you Fronia, and looking so well.”

“Duchess, what a pleasant surprise,” the woman stood and curtseyed.

She was a Yenni – skin a pale blue with curlicues of dark-blue across it. She had bright, almond-shaped blue eyes and dark hair tied back in Vaxen fashion. Sanoh knew Fronia from when she was a child – she was the apothecary’s apprentice, and now his third wife.

“Illaris is upstairs,” Fronia added. “I will call him.” She darted through a doorway at the back, and Sanoh looked at the contents of the glass jars that lined the walls. Every apothecary looked the same, ultimately. Dark wood, with poorly-lit candelabrum, and shelves upon shelves of equipment and ingredients. Sanoh didn’t even pretend to know what half of it was for, but the table at the back was scored and marked from many years of putting the contents of the jars to good use.

Sanoh trusted Illaris above any other apothecary – not just for his skill but for his discretion. And it was his discretion that she needed most then. When Illaris appeared, Sanoh gave him her widest, happiest smile. The tall Escenian returned it in kind. Illaris was of the Nomi tribe, with pale blonde hair and grey eyes, his tall golden skin seeming to glow even in the gloom. Illaris was older than Sanoh could imagine – she remembered him from when she was a small child and he had never seemed to age.

“Illaris!” she cried with genuine warmth.

“Duchess! What an unexpected honour,” Illaris replied, bowing to her with the correct amount of respect. “What can I do for you today?”

Sanoh pulled a bag of coins from a hidden pocket. “I’m afraid, my dear friend, that this will be the greatest favour you could do for me.”

Illaris paled. “So… so it’s true?”

“It’s true.” Sanoh pushed the purse across the desk, and it quickly disappeared into the folds of Illaris’ tunic. “Vionalar is come.”

Illaris beckoned her up the stairs at the back, and she followed hastily. The room above was bare and unremarkable. Another table, marked with the signatures of the trade, and two wooden chairs. Illaris waved her to sit in one, and sat across from her, steepling his fingers in front of him and observing her from across the table.

“So,” he said quietly. “Vionalar.”

“Yes.”

“I have treated your family for five generations. I had hoped to treat your children in turn.”

“I know.”

“But, I feel, you will not return to Aquene.”

“Not for a long time,” Sanoh nodded.

“And I will be long gone.”

Sanoh opened her mouth to argue, but he waved her down impatiently.

“Please don’t argue, Sanoh,” he said in a tone that brooked no argument – one she remembered from childhood. “Tell me, what is it you need?”

“I need to pass unseen.”

“I see.”

“And… and I need a key.”

Illaris cleared his throat uncomfortably. “The first request is a simple thing… the other…”

“I know you have it… I have the coin –”

“Not all the keqam in the world is worth the key you ask for.” He shook his head. “I cannot give it to you.” He rubbed his face with his finger tips as if he were exhausted.

“I know what I ask,” Sanoh whispered. “But, Illaris, you must understand…”

“I understand, Sanoh. Do not take me for a half-hearted fool who supports a campaign until it gets too difficult. But, if I give you this key…”

Sanoh knew when to answer and when to stay silent when talking to Illaris. She had known him too long not to recognise when he was thinking.

“It is Vionalar, Illaris,” she eventually said, when she could no longer stand the silence. It came out in a hoarse plea, which surprised the noble blood in her – no one of the House of Ember should have to beg.

“It is Vionalar,” Illaris repeated, nodding. “If I give you this key, if, I said. Then I ask you one thing.” He pointed a finger at her.

Sanoh nodded hastily.

“Once you are done with it, I want you to be rid of it. This key has caused me nothing but pain since it came into my keeping. I would not wish its burden on you any longer than it needs to be… it is not the blessing you wish it were.”

He didn’t wait for her response – he knew she would promise him anything – and instead, walked into a back room, closing the door behind him to keep prying eyes away, and retrieved the key from the hidden cupboard where it had stayed for many years. When he returned, he held it with a strange, disgusted reverence, as if its touch astounded and repulsed him all at once.

Sanoh took it from him, and felt a cold tingling up her fingers, that all at once froze her blood and excited her. She gazed at it – an iron key, with one ornate loop at one end, and the unassuming teeth at the other.

“A Skeleton Key,” she murmured. “I have never seen one before…”

“And I hope you have no reason to again,” Illaris snapped. “Put it away, quickly. And I will bring you what else you need.”

Sanoh obeyed, as Illaris went downstairs and returned with several vials of different coloured liquids. Sanoh had always loved to watch Illaris at work – his alchemy was renowned in Aquene to be some of the finest. He proceeded to pour varying amounts of the liquids back and forth into one another, before stirring the concoction until it went a pale purple. He poured this into a new, empty vial, and stoppered it with cork.

“This will allow you to be unseen until you touch another living thing,” Illaris explained. “Until then, no one will even know you are there.”

Sanoh rose, casting more coins on the table amongst the glass bottles. “Thank you, Illaris,” she said. “I can never repay you for all you have done for me and my family over the years.”

Illaris put up his hands. “Repay me by coming back alive, Sanoh, and I will see it from the next world and be glad.”

“We will see each other again, before the Shroud takes you,” Sanoh insisted, but Illaris simply smiled and led her downstairs and out the shop.

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Silence is a Virtue

Wonder why I’m off radar so much of late?

Aside from the madness that is my life at the moment, I have also been putting my nose to the grindstone when it comes to writing. Yes, folks, I have abandoned you for the Great Literary Art… Sorry.

It does, however, also mean that I will be posting infrequently for a little while. My hope is that it will be once a week if not once every other day. I promise I won’t abandon you completely!

In the meantime though (as it’s 10pm and I’m so tired I can’t keep my eyes open), I will leave you with this little picture:

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Saying What I Didn’t Think Of

You might have noticed a few re-blogs of late. Yeah, some people hate it. But I love it. I love the fact that I can share a post with others – a post that said something I felt in a way I couldn’t have done myself, expressed something I hadn’t thought about expressing, showing a new perspective on things.

My Glamorous Literary Life
This lady was one of my university lecturers. She was wonderful! (And I’m not just saying that because she could be reading this right now – though there is a little of that maybe). She guided me through my tentative first steps as a Real Writer, and helped me understand the difference between writing and Writing. This blog says everything I wish I could – about writing and the emotions it creates, and also the brutal honesty that comes with being a writer in the first place, from being honest with yourself to being honest with others.

The Diary of a Mad Gay Man
I found MGM through Blogdramedy (follow for endless hilarity and sharp wit), and his honesty with his readers is lovely. He’s not afraid of talking about his sexuality, his body phobias, or even depression when it strikes. I know from experience how scary it is to share these things – this guy is one brave blogger, and he does it with tongue in cheek and plenty of glitter.

Fix it or Deal
Another brave blogger alert. This girl knows how to make me laugh and how to make me sit back and go “hm” in a thoughtful, impressed kind of way. The last reblog (lock me down to set me free) was a thoughtful one… and reminded me that I’m a little behind on writing my novel – and I rely too much on “bolts from the blue” inspiration. Cue slap on the wrist and a weekend of SCHEDULING my writing and being good about it. (It will probably last as long as my diet has, which is a grand total of half a day so far).

Anyway. Dismiss the idea of re-blogging as much as you like, dear readers. But if you do – you might miss a point I could have made, but they said it better.

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Haunting

My whole life is filled with hauntings lately.

I’m pretty sure I’m being haunted by a ghost. And not in a friendly, Casper-like way. In a malignant something’s-watching-me-from-the-corner-of-the-room way. It’s most likely my highly-strung imagination combined with watching horror films and reading a ghost story. (Though how you explain footsteps up and down the stairs when you’re tucked up in bed and there’s no one else in the house beats me). I took Sophie-cat to sleep on the end of my bed last night it’s getting so bad. I’m pretty sure Mummaloo and Poppaloo think I’m going nuts (it’s a 1960s built house and I’m pretty sure there were no deaths here before we moved in). I guess it doesn’t help that I still have an irrational fear of the dark (I don’t care what you say, 24 years old does not mean you get over your fear of not being able to see what’s under or at the end of your bed/in the wardrobe/at the other end of the hallway).

I am also being haunted by a Blue Tit. No euphemisms please. Every morning I am greeted by a tapping on the frosted window of the back door. I’m kind of enjoying the greeting with my morning cuppa. I’m just terrified of opening the back door and finding he flies in and becomes Sophie-cat’s new plaything.

And, finally, I am being haunted by the novel-that-never-was. Or, should I say, the novel-that-should-be-but-is-still-gathering-dust. All my fancy promises of a new start and writing every day seemed to fall to the wayside almost as quickly as I announced them. Life is still taking over. Instead, my forlorn little notebook is just looking (forlornly) at me with (forlorn) accusatory eyes. It follows me around the room, begging to be picked up, but not daring to say anything in case I hurt its feelings by giving a half-baked excuse of being too busy. I even dreamt about the damn thing last night! But that might have been the overdose of Sudafed I took in an attempt to breathe whilst sleeping affecting my brain patterns, or whatever.

What’s haunting you at the moment?

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Wise or Wasted

I got incredibly offended today when I was told that blogging is a waste of time. “You’ve got what? A hundred followers? That’s nothing,” I was told. “You could be doing so many better things with your time than writing about stuff no one wants to hear about.”

I was so furious that I couldn’t even stammer out a reply of “well, you’re wrong”. I couldn’t get a coherent argument together to show him how wrong he really was. I failed to grasp strong and valid examples that proved his ignorance. I was impotent with rage.

A waste of time!?

This bloke spends half the night on video games shooting pretend monsters with online strangers whilst his friends play sports and meet up for Boy’s Nights. At the weekends he spends his whole time in the pub, nursing lukewarm beers. Now tell me what time is wasted.

Of course, I would never dare say that video games are a complete waste of time. I don’t presume to judge; I’m not a game-player. Do you love it? Do you have fun doing it? Then it’s not a waste of time.

I don’t make money from my blogs. It would be nice if I did. It would be nice to get freebies and advertising space on other sites and all sorts of things. But that’s not the reason I actually do it. I never got in to blogging for money (I’m not daft for starters); I got in to it because I wanted a medium in which to write about things I love (and I’m an egomaniac).

And this made me think… there are two phrases that imply what you are doing is of some use (or not)…
“Using your time wisely”
“A complete waste of time”

So are you time-wise or time-wasted?

Blogging for me is not a waste of time (though it is time-consuming), in the same way that reading isn’t a waste of time, eating isn’t a waste of time and sleeping isn’t a waste of time. Things that I do find a waste of time? Fake tan, watching Twilight and listening to a boy talk about football (in fact, anything football-related).

But then I can accept that people enjoy that sort of stuff, and for them it’s not time-wasted, it’s time-wise.

What do you think is time-wasting or time-wise?

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A Social World

On Twitter the other day, one of the hashtags trending (if you’re not a tweeter, this will make no sense to you) was: “I miss the 90s because”…

And a large majority of the comments (after the nostalgia tweets about Hey Arnold!) was the fact that there were no social network sites.

This got me thinking – because, after all, I am a child of the Social Network so to speak, and I’m addicted to Facebook and Twitter.

Social network sites are taking over the world, really. MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and on and on until there is no private corner of your life that isn’t displayed online. People can even see what websites you’re browsing on Pinterest! And yet, ironically, tweeters waxed lyrical about the halcyon bygone days before social networking. What makes us so addicted to Facebook and blogs and Twitter, and yet strangely hate it as well? I know plenty of people who “don’t like Facebook”,and yet there they are, with a badly-taken profile picture of them artfully head-tilting and usually drink in hand, posting cryptic statuses (bitching doesn’t get better than statuses that MAKE NO SENSE but are clearly about someone), adding photos of their dinner and creating albums of their holiday entitled Wasssuuuuup: Corfu 2011.“Oh, it’s just a way for me to keep in touch with people”…well, yes, that is the idea of social network sites. The clue is in the name: SOCIAL. NETWORK.

This isn’t really a rant in either direction – I love Twitter and Facebook (and yes, I really do keep in touch with friends that way, and no I don’t post pictures of my dinner – mainly because it’s generally very uninteresting). I like the idea of sharing pictures and stories. It would be weird if I didn’t – I have been described as an “avid blogger” after all.

But why the disgust for the social network? Why the nostalgia for when it wasn’t there?

From my recollection, the 90s weren’t that great (though Hey Arnold!was awesome) – too much denim and an overpopulation of floppy-haired boy bands. Did I miss something? Were the 90s a decade of hedonism and wondrous experience? And if it was, did the advent of the social networking sites ruin it all?

Before the internet, we had phones, and before phones, we had letters. Whatever way you look at it, people always find a way of keeping in touch, sharing their story and letting the world know who they are. Don’t get me wrong, Facebook and Twitter eat up my time so badly that I am at risk of being a hermit that never sees the light of day and just sits in front of their computer tweeting all day. Facebook was my favourite procrastination tool at university, and I know so many times when I’ve been Facebook stalking instead of doing what I should be doing. So I’m not jumping up and down in an “I heart Social Networking” top and passing out if Twitter waves at me as it walks by, because I’m simply not a die-hard fan. But I’m not a hater either.

So what I started thinking was: all these people tweeting about what they miss from the 90s, all these people saying that it was better when there were no social network sites – just look at how they are expressing their opinion. They are sharing their idea and their story with the world (in 140 characters or less). So don’t go around dissing it, when you’re a product of it.

Social network sites are the new tools of communication – get over it.

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