Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Camp NaNoWriMo - July Edition

In place of tea reviews this month, I'll be using Wednesdays to keep track of my Camp NaNoing, which I wasn't going to do, but I couldn't resist, regardless of it being summer holiday madness time at the day job.

I'm setting my goal at 15,000 words. I think I'll hit my target, and if I do, that should see me through to the end of Ghost!Story Book 3's first draft.

Target for Camp: 15,000
Current Ghost!Story Book 3 wordcount:41,001
Final Wordcount goal: ??? My Ghost!Story first drafts are always quite short, so I'm not sure this story necessarily has 15k left or not. If it doesn't, I may scribble down a few things for Ghost!Story Book 4...


Writing Music For The Week

(A* use of Bronski Beat)


Monday, 29 June 2015

July Reading Challenge: TBR DECIMATION!!!!

I've decided July will be the month I tackle my TBR pile. Actually, I intend to DESTROY my TBR pile. Kinda. Sorta. Eeeeeh. I'll get to the rules in a minute.

I've realised over the years that I actually don't like having a TBR pile. Not when it's become a dump for books I bought for the sake of it. I've DNF'd more books than ever this year, and that needs to stop. Plus having an overly large TBR pile means I don't get to re-read older books I love. So, it's time for the TBR to go, one way or another.

If you want to hop aboard the TBR DECIMATION challenge, feel free! I'll be updating every Monday this month. Aaaand maybe August, too. We'll see how we go ;)

Here, lovely readers, is my TBR pile as it stands currently:

I know, I know, this is a tiny TBR pile. BUT IT'S STILL TOO BIG FOR ME

Now, about those rules. (Don't feel like you have to stick to my rules!) One: I'm not including Kindle books in this, and Two: The non-fiction I'm reading for research doesn't count either. Why? My Kindle books don't take up physical space, and my research books serve a far more academic purpose, and I dip in and out of them as necessary, rather than read them cover to cover.

I'd like to be super optimistic and say I'll be through all of them before I go to YALC on the 17th, buuuuuuuuut okay, yeah, that's not happening. Plus my TBR pile will be growing a lot this month as a few of my favourite authors have new titles coming out. Plus I have five books on their way from Waterstones as you read this :P

Wish me luck! And leave a comment if you fancy joining in. The more the merrier! SHOW YOUR TBR PILE WHO'S BOSS!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Monthly Soundtrack Review - Star Trek

Soundtrack: Star Trek
Year: 2009
Composer: Michael Giacchino
Stand Out Track: Enterprising Young Men
Works Well With: Science-Fiction, Action, Thrillers

Yeah, yeah, I know, should've done this one last month and Into Darkness this month, but whatever!

Again, I'll review the shorter version rather than the deluxe edition, because the shorter version is very easy to find.

Also, if you ever have the chance to go to a Star Trek Live concert, go go go go go! Hearing this and Into Darkness' scores performed live were some of the best musical experiences of my life.

If you've been around my blog for a few years, you'll know Star Trek is one of my favourite films of all time. It makes me so happy, and that's all we want out of life, right? It has a very uplifting score to go with it. My stand out track booms enthusiasm and determination. It's great to inspire strong, adventurous lead characters. Other tracks, such as Hella Bar Talk, are great for those moments when your character is making life-changing choices. Does It Still McFly? works so well for a cheeky character discovering the solution to their problem and going through with it. That New Car Smell is another of my favourites. It's brilliant for characters who've been through some of the hardest times in their life and come out stronger for it. 

Oh, and the End Credits on this score are phenomenal. The soaring Star Trek theme composed by Alexander Courage blends seamlessly with Giacchino's score. The music is triumphant, thrilling, tinged with danger, and full of hope. It still gives me chills six years down the line. And it is perfect to write with. I recommend playing it as you approach the finish line of a draft.

This is also a soundtrack with some great battle music. You've got plenty of choice if you're writing epic showdowns. I love the dramatic brass and percussion in Nero Sighted. You've got tense, ohmigosh will they survive this? music in Nailin' the Kelvin and Nero Death Experience, too.

And it wouldn't be a Giacchino score without a piece of music as tragic as Labor of Love. Your heart will ache. I recently listened to it and Buying the Space Farm from Into Darkness to write a particularly tragic scene recently. And then I had to listen to End Credits to cheer myself up again.

In other words, this is a very versatile score, and it will suit a huge range of stories and genres. I am SO EXCITED to get a new Star Trek OST next year.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Why I Wrote Ghost!Story

Every story I write has roots that go back to my past. Conspiracy of Echoes goes all the way back to my childhood fascination with ghosts.

And we can all blame my middle brother.

See, I used to have a wooden clown toy on my bedroom door. I say clown. It didn't have a face or anything specifically clownish about it. It was just a collection of wooden blocks shaped in a way that resembled a clown. Anyway, this thing used to move - by itself as far as my child's brain was concerned.

By ghosts, if my middle brother was to be believed.

(I'm betting right now if I asked him if he recalled this, he'd say "I never did that!")

He (VERY UNWITTINGLY) triggered a pretty intense phase of my life when I was convinced everything was a ghost. That weird creaking from under the floorboards? Ghost. Things falling over? Ghost. Sudden chills in the middle of summer? GHOST! I convinced myself my junior school was haunted. My cousin and I even set up a ghost finding club.

Pictured: our actual reaction to everything slightly strange

Although the intensity of my obsession eventually faded, the ideas never did. And as I grew older and studied Gothic literature, attending a school complete with its own ghostly nun legend, watched shows like The X-Files and Supernatural, and generally enjoyed a good ghost story, the seeds of my own books were sewn. And although I dabbled with scary stories, I never really committed to one until December last year.

What was the final trigger? Uncharted 3. Specifically the abandoned French chateau. That whole level just stuck with me because it's fun, it's beautiful, and I really like abandoned buildings. Before I knew it, Ghost!Story was poking at me and wouldn't be ignored. It was like the game finally brought together all the different parts of my life that had a fascination with ghosts and this story emerged at long, long last. I abandoned MagicalGirl!Story mid-edit and let the new idea take over. And here I am six months later with the first book querying, the second one awaiting revisions and the WiP third one sitting at just over 30k.

If you've had an idea that's been bubbling in your brain since childhood, see where it takes you now. And if the idea isn't quite ready yet, give it time. You never know what might finally get you going.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Miss Cole's Tea Time - Assam Decaf from Chi Trading

I was so excited to find another local tea company here in Brighton. Chi Trading operates out of the recently refurbished Brighton Market. Wow, that part of town sure is unrecognisable from the place I just about remember from my childhood. And look! NEW TEA! YAY! And, even more excitingly, loose leaf decaf! Wonders may never cease :D

This Assam is it is definitely mellower than caffeinated versions, but it still has that solid, earthy flavour Assam teas are known for. It is exactly what I need to support me through the last little bit of writing before bed. Strong enough to keep my mind engaged, soothing enough to mellow me out, and no caffeine to overstimulate me right before lights out.

I've always enjoyed writing at night, and having a really decent tasting decaf to keep me company is very exciting. Especially seeing as actual nightfall is pretty late these days. Ah, summer. You are not entirely conducive to writing horror novels set in the dead of winter...

Monday, 22 June 2015

Things I Have Learned Writing the Ghost!Book Series

Thanks to Emma for finding the gif ;)
  1. You better keep a damn good notebook for all those cross-book things you have to keep track of.
  2. Ignore that "get an agent for the first one before writing more!" advice. WRITE WHAT YOU DAMN WELL WANT.
  3. ...but seriously, keep good notes.
  5. Write down everything about books you haven't started yet so you can sprinkle that delicious foreshadowing.
  8. Ahem.
  9. Keep detailed character sheets.
  10. Revel in how fun it is that your characters keep going and going and changing and growing.
  11. Really revel in those evil twists for later books (MWAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!!)
  12. Know your world.
  13. Know your rules.
  14. Don't break those rules.
  15. Have a team of AMAZEBALLS beta readers who cheer you on, make you feel great about your book, but aren't afraid to tell you what needs work.
  16. reallyreallyreally look forward to sending them some of the AWESOME PLOT TWISTS you have in store ;) 
  17. Stopping when an idea isn't working is a lot better than forcing yourself to go on.
  18. And, actually, that's why you should definitely ignore number two - how will you know if you're querying a "standalone with series potential" until you try writing that series?
  19. My original idea for book two didn't work out, but the next idea did. I'm glad I gave myself the opportunity to fail.
  20. If you're scaring yourself, you've probably got the horror thing right.
  21. If it feels right, write it, even if it's the hardest thing you've ever done.
  23. Edit accordingly. If something in a later book needs grounding in an earlier book, be sure to put those roots down.
  24. Enjoy the research.
  25. Stop researching things that aren't quite the thing you were looking for.
  26. Have fun.
If I learn anything else while writing a series, I'll be sure to share it.

    Friday, 19 June 2015

    A Working Desk Isn't A Tidy Desk

    I love looking at inspirational desk photos to get some ideas about how to make the most out of my desk space, but you know what I can't emulate, no matter how hard I (pretend) to try?

    All that neatness.

    It's not like I'm anti-neatness, it's just other than the rare times I tidy my desk, it's usually full of work, tea, and other life-related paraphernalia. And while I'm not a fan of clutter, I'm also not one for minimalism. So, while my desk did look this this the day I set it up:

    It kinda looks more like this every other day:

    I'm sure plenty of people work in far messy spaces. Mine can get a lot worse than this, but I can still get the work done. A messy desk is a sign that I'm working. I've got notebooks open, drinks ready, pens on standby, fangirly items all over the place... This desk is me and mine. Sometimes I'm compelled to tidy before I write, mostly because I can't get to the keyboard, but occasionally because the untidiness gets to me. On the whole though, if I can get to where I need to be, I'm there and I'm working.

    And as nice as that tidy desk looks up there, it's not exactly the real story, is it? And why do I feel the need to make everything look just so for photos when in reality I'm really not that fussed? Yeah, I love those photos of desks when everything matches and is neatly lined up and looks absolutely perfect. They make me want to write! But life isn't like that. Life's a collection of things from all sorts of places. There's no reason why my desk shouldn't reflect my eclectic nature. And when I'm taking photos for my blog, I can't always be bothered to capture things at the right angles in the right light. I want it to look realistic, not posed.

    In other words, don't feel like the photos for your blog have to be award-winning.

    So, fellow writers, don't use "I must tidy my desk!" as an excuse not to write. Unless you can't get to the keyboard, then you should probably make a space for that. BUT AFTER THAT, FORGET THE REST AND WRITE!