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31 Dec 2013

2013

That year has gone by quickly. I say that for every year that passes but this particular one seems like it's gone super-quick. I didn't get most of my goals achieved but hey ho. 2014 is just another year to keep working at them. I want to keep writing and reading as I normally do without a deadline or a number goal.  Because I only disappoint myself if I say this is year I get an agent or this is the year I read 50 books and I don't.   So I don't really have any set goals like that. I just want to keep working on the stories I love and stay in love with them. And I want to read amazing stories that take me away from reality for a while.

What I would like to do though is NaNo, whether it's only one or all three of them. I missed participating in NaNo. It keeps me writing and helps me work to a deadline one of these ideas are itching to get out. It does mean I end up with too many first drafts but at least I won't be running out of projects to work on and edits

The best of 2013:

WriteOn Con
Taking part in Ready!Set!Write
Italy, zombies, and ghost hunting, oh my!

Things to look forward to in 2014:

Divergent film
Sherlock
Peter Capaldi as the 12th/13th/new1st Doctor
Doing some more beta-ing for Cole. I'll let you in on a secret... this is an awesome book!
Pancake Day! Sorry, I just love pancakes. And an excuse to eat loads of them.
Going to Strictly Come Dancing Tour with my mum.
Seeing Wicked for the first time ever!

What did you enjoy in 2013? What are you looking forward to in 2014?





27 Dec 2013

Holiday Road Trip 2013

My little Nook has cobwebs and dust everywhere.  Oops.  I've seen that I haven't blogged since November; well over a month since my last post.  I'll do a currently post around New Years to update everything but the short answer is: Christmas plays, mock tests, interviews, and English and Maths revision.  That has been my entire month and I'll explain properly soon.  For now here's the YA Highway's Holiday Road Trip!

Every year YA Highways do a special Holiday Road Trip so everyone can sum up their book (and some TV/Film) loves for that year.  There are five parts to the Holiday Road Trip but I'm going to be up in Darlington for New Years and the beginning of January so I'm doing one whole blog post.

Best Book Of The Year
Asylum by Madeleine Roux. Amazing horror.  So tense and psychological - you do end up wondering if the events are supernatural or are they actually in the character's head.  I also loved the addition of real asylum photographs.  They add to the creepiness of the book. 
Most Unexpectedly Delightful Book Of The Year
And Then There Were None by Agathe Christie.  I've never read an Agatha Christie novel before and I never thought I would be interested in one.  Then I tried out And Then There Were None on Wii and I was really interested in the storyline.  I'd also read a book and seen a couple of films that were based on the storyline and it did sound like something I'd enjoy.  And it was an amazing book.  Here's my full review.
Book I Wanted To Hate But Couldn't Because Game Recognise Game
I was so sure I wouldn't like The Iron King by Julie Kagawa because of the whole love triangle aspect.  I'll admit I'm a bit wary of any books that have love triangles these days because they seem like they're everywhere or at least compulsory to supernatural books.  And when the author adds them in I've always felt they've taken the focus away from the events that should be more important in the characters' lives.  I still wasn't a fan of the romantic aspects in this book and its sequels but I was hooked on the idea of a quest into the fey world and a darker image of fey in general.
Book I Can't Get Out Of My Mind
Allegiant by Veronica Roth, mainly because of the ending.  It was gutsy and I liked it! It's totally going to change my perspective of the film when it's released, knowing what's going to happen.  I know a lot of people weren't keen but I thought it was quite fitting for the story.  I admire Roth for her decision, especially because it felt right.  It didn't seem forced purely to get a shock reaction from her readers.  This was the nature of her Divergent trilogy.

Best "New To Me" YA Author 
I'd say Julie Kagawa because, despite the romance, she's created an amazing Fey world that's whimsical and dangerous as the same time.  It reminds me of 80s fantasy classics like Neverending Story and Labyrinth with the MC going on a quest and leading the story themselves rather than being placed in the middle of it and letting everyone else steer them in the right direction.   I like the heroine, I can see bromance happening, and there's a snarky, taking cat.  Every fantasy needs a witty, moody animal.

Best Sequel
Scarlett by Marissa Meyer.  I love the little team of characters Meyer is getting together.  They're all so different and I can see some personality clashing in the future.  I'm still loving the sci-fi retelling on fairy tale classics.  I think the two genres go so well together.  Here's my full review.

Best Debut
 I've only read one debut this year and it wasn't a great read.  Maybe I need a debut resolution for 2014.  Read more!

Most Anticipated Book Releases in 2014
 CRESS! Enough said.  Also I pre-ordered Vicious by Victoria Schwab which I know was released in September but I don't think the UK is getting it until January.  At least my order isn't coming until January.  
 Best Guilty Pleasure Book
Point horror books.  I bought and read some more cheesy 90s horror this year from Christopher Pike and Richie Tankersley Cusick.  The characters are very two dimensional and the writing is quick and easy to read but you gotta love the old YA horror from that decade.  It's what I grew up with.

Books Not Normally In My Wheelhouse That I Still Enjoyed
 Anna and the French Kiss by Stephenie Perkins.  I don't normally read romance but there were so many good reviews of it so I gave it a go and I really enjoyed it.  Here's my full review.
Best Book Cover

Best "I Want To Go To There" Setting in a Book
Paris from Anna and the French Kiss.  I've been to Paris before and this book brought back all those amazing memories.
Favourite female YA Character
Tris from the Divergent trilogy.  She grew up so much in those three books, becoming a mature leader and defender.  She had so much determination from the minute she chose to commit herself to Dauntless.  She worked hard as an initiate and when her city and loved ones were in danger she was ready to fight for them and continued doing so.  
Favourite male YA Character
 I do love Puck from the Iron Fey series.  He's the dorky, comical character who you know isn't going to stand a chance in the love triangle.  I don't know why the sulky, serious LI wins each time but I end up liking the guy who actually has a personality and can be your best friend as well as your boyfriend.  And that's Puck.  He's a sweetie pie.  Also he doesn't threaten to murder the heroine either.  Personally I'd go for the one who doesn't come across as a psychopath but whatever rocks your boat, Meghan. 

Best in YA films/television 
I really enjoyed The Hunger Games: Catching Fire this year.  And I still love The Vampire Diaries TV show.  How that show manages to make me sympathetic for even the most villainous of characters I do not know but as a writer that shows good character development and roundness there.

Best Music to Write To/Be Inspired By
This is list is more of a personal list because everyone has different tastes in music.  There is one song I keep listening to for various WiPs because it just seems to fit with every one of them.  It's also a kick ass theme tune:


Best YA/Pop culture tie-in
Anything Doctor Who! 2013 marked 50 years of the longest running sci-fi serial.  23rd November was a big day for all Doctor Who fans and merchandise went crazy on the count down to the 50th anniversary special.  My favourite was a mini-episode tie-in where we got a prequel on the nature of John Hurt's mysterious Doctor and also saw the return of Paul McGann's eighth Doctor, an incarnation only ever saw once.   
The Night of the Doctor

13 Nov 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. Perfect for readers and writers who want to share what they've been up to on a weekly basis and right now the place to share your goals and track your progress for Ready. Set. Write!  

1) What I'm Reading

I finished The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irvin which overall I would give two stars to. The story is interesting and I like how it's unknown what really happened to Ichabod Crane. But it's pure narration. You don't get any dialogue. Any proper insight to the characters. There's a lot of telling instead of showing. Now I'm reading Allegiant and I'm 64% done with it so far. I quite like it. Tobias does irritate me a little this time and I have some issue with the two P.O.Vs but I like where it's going so far. Tris is definitely one of my top favourite heroines. She's grown so much in these books and while Tobias continues to put her down (IMO) she's proven many times now that she's more than a sixteen year old girl. She's very mature and has a lot of common sense. Very refreshing to see.

 2) What I'm Writing

I edited a chapter of Beast Inside at the beginning of November but I couldn't get any writing or editing last week because of my wrist. Now and again it plays up and hurts to use so I had to let that rest whenever possible.

 3) What Else I've Been Up To

I spent the beginning of November in London seeing some old high school friends. We haven't been together as a group for six years so it was one hell of a catch up. We're on week two of the new school term and there's already suspicion of Ofsted coming. Eeek! Now that it's November I've already been getting in the Christmas mood. =D I tried out some mince pies which look a whole lot better than last year's shocking attempt. Christmas Cake this weekend! =D I love Christmas baking even though I don't actually it. I love this time of year but I don't like Christmas desserts and treats.  

4) What Inspires Me Right Now

Pete's been busy with Assassin's Creed Black Flag which is all about pirates. He's been playing that non-stop, humming sea shanties and watching Pirates of the Caribbean.  I'm getting all sorts of ideas now.


3 Nov 2013

Packed for the editing cave

I'm off in the editing cave a little while.  I will do a couple of posts now and again but mainly work on getting these edits done and working a bit more on a new blog I started which focuses on another interest of mine, make-up and fashion.  It's something I've wanted to do for a good couple of years now ever since I got into it and started watching beauty and fashion vloggers on youtube.  So if you're interested in that area as well, pop in and say hello! :)





1 Nov 2013

A Twist on NaNo

I'm not participating in NaNo this year.  I'd love to.  NaNo is the best motivation for me in getting first drafts done.  It's helped to focus on getting those words out and not worrying over what I've written.  But with each NaNo I've done I've got three drafts out of it and instead of building up a pile of drafts I'm going to start focusing on getting them edited and properly finished.

So while I'm not planning to write a novel in 30 days, I'm planning on using the deadline to get the edits of Beast Inside finished and try to start editing another draft.  Then if I think I've gone as far as I can in terms of edits for BI I'll see about hunting for betas and get another person's opinion on it. 

So, the goal:

Finish these round of edits on Beast Inside.

30 days starting.... now!

Are you NaNo-ing or not this year?

28 Oct 2013

The Scariest Thing Tag

I've seen this around a few beauty channels but it's a tag that I think would fit into any type of youtube channel or blog, especially with Halloween just around the corner.  So without further ado...

THE SCARIEST THING TAG!

(Try and imagine lightning striking and creepy music in the background since I don't actually vlog and can't make this effective.)

1. Your scariest real-life experience

I've actually had a couple that really terrified me.  One was when I was in primary school.  Between 8 or 11 and my class went swimming.  Some bloody idiot decided it would be hilarious to push me off a mat and then put said mat over my head, keeping me underwater.  I remember absolutely panicking as I tried to find the edge of the mat and pull myself back up.  I desperately had to breathe and I was freaking out more and more as I couldn't find the edge.  Finally I did but I really wasn't the biggest fan of swimming afterwards.

The second scariest experience I had was in Bradford.  I was with a former friend, her boyfriend and his friend and we were getting heckled by these lads.  The girl's boyfriend decided to be an idiot and shout back at them with insults which prompted them to start chasing us all the way through Bradford.  Luckily we managed to hide in a pub and they ran past.  I don't know what the hell they would have done if they had caught us but I wasn't very impressed with my ex-friend's boyfriend.  I thought it was stupid and really made the situation worse.

2. Your scariest paranormal experience

I'd say that ghost hunt at Thackray Medical Museum was quite spooky at times. I was quite shocked when we were all in a circle and something was tapping loudly on the glass.  There was enough light for us to be able to see if someone was moving to do that but we were all still and nowhere near the glass.  There were no places to hide, it was a very open room, and something was definitely tapping against glass.  Now that was a bit weird.  I wasn't too keen on the breathing on my neck either.

3. Have you ever known anyone convicted of a violent crime.

No.

4. Are you afraid of the dark? Why or why not?

If I'm alone in the house I couldn't have all the lights on.  I have to keep the hallway light on when I go to bed.  I don't like being in pitch dark by myself.  If there are others in the house I'm absolutely fine.  I've always been a bit wary of the dark and my imagination always gets carried away quite frequently. 

5. Does your home town have any scary legends?

Leeds does have it's share of ghosties and legends.  Here's a post I did on one of Leeds' haunted locations: The Leeds City Varieties

6. What's your favourite urban legend?

A lot of people have said Bloody Mary and I'm going to have to go with that.  The origin of the legend varies which as a horror writer is really good for coming up with WiP ideas but I've always been terrified at the thought of Bloody Mary so it's quite an effective story.  I use to have nightmares of her when I was younger after hearing about the legend for the first time.  I've never tried and never will.  I am so superstitious about it. 

I tag all of you for this post so if you fancy doing it, leave a link.  I'd love to see what everyone else comes up with! :)

23 Oct 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. Perfect for readers and writers who want to share what they've been up to on a weekly basis and right now the place to share your goals and track your progress for Ready. Set. Write!

1) What I'm Reading

I haven't picked up Sleepy Hollow for a few days so I still have that to finish.  I'm getting that finished ASAP now that Allegiant has appeared on my kindle. =D

2) What I'm Writing

I'm having a look through where I left off last time with Beast Inside.  With a week off coming up I'm going to keep going on those edits and use Nano as an editing deadline. I also wanted to start editing the first draft on Inside the Broom Closet as well.  I'm in a big editing mood right now.

3) What Else I've Been Up To

We've been Halloween crazy this past week at work so we've all been getting in the spooky mood at school.  We're celebrating tomorrow with costumes and a school disco so I've been hunting for costume ideas.

4) What Inspires Me Right Now

To get back in the mood I've been listening the playlists for Beast Inside and Inside the Broom Closet.  I'm also craving some old school Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps.  I think it's because I'm quite into short stories at the moment after writing that competition entry.  I might use one of the Camp NaNo months next year to get a few short stories written.

22 Oct 2013

Spook Review: Carrie by Stephen King


Each month the YA Buccaneers select a group of books to recommend for you.  It's up to you how many of them you read in that month but all they ask for is a review of whichever book or books you read. 

The story of misfit high-school girl, Carrie White, who gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers. Repressed by a domineering, ultra-religious mother and tormented by her peers at school, her efforts to fit in lead to a dramatic confrontation during the senior prom.

Carrie was my first step into Stephen King when I was in high school.  I already knew about the King of Horror but I'd never actually sat down and read one of his novels.  That all changed and I came out of the bookstore with Carrie in my arms.  

As my first King novel I really enjoyed it.  It was set out quite interesting with King breaking away from the main events to show us fictional documents about this mysterious telekinetic power and the infamous prom night.  I thought that was quite effective.  It made the Black Prom feel like it could have happened and also gives the reader the unnerving knowledge that Carrie won't be the last.  I think the real horror lies in the bullying.  Working in a primary school I've seen bullying and I could point out the children who are on their way to becoming bullies.  It's all around in every school and sometimes the victims will react to it when they've reached breaking point.  Carrie White is the representation for all abused and bullied children.  

I was more sad than terrified when reading.  I wouldn't say this was a book to chill you to the bones.  You follow this shy, young girl who is sheltered and physically abused by a bible-bashing mother and then has to go to school to suffer it all over again.  Until prom night she never says anything back, lashes out, or even turns to an adult for help.  She suffers in silence until finally she can't take it anymore and she snaps, unable to control her power and unable to stop and think about what she's causing.  Rather than feeling angry or terrified you're in full sympathy for King's tragic MC.  I think King did well to get into the head of a teenage girl and portray the cruel side of high school. My heart absolutely went out to Carrie.

I think this would be a good start for people who are interested in reading a Stephen King novel but not particularly into horror.  It isn't blood, gore, and creepy horror at all so I think this could appeal to a wide audience.


16 Oct 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. Perfect for readers and writers who want to share what they've been up to on a weekly basis and right now the place to share your goals and track your progress for Ready. Set. Write!

1) What I'm Reading

I finished Asylum by Madeleine Roux which I gave 5 starts.  I have a book review to come later in the week so all I'll say now is this book was a fantastic read.  Murder mystery and supernatural all in one complete with haunting photographs from real asylums to add to the atmosphere.  I liked the characters, the pace, the spookiness.  It was brilliant.  Now I'm on to a book I've been wanting to read for ages: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irvin.  Irvin can get a bit snarky at times.  I like it.

I also got round to reading Who-ology, one of my amazing birthday presents last month.  I sat down and devoured it in a whole day.  I loved reading all the facts and trivia from classic Who to new Who.  Definitely a must buy for Doctor Who fans.  I think the only downside to it is it was published before Matt Smith announced he was leaving.  So it doesn't mention anything about Peter Capaldi or the 12th (if this is actually the 12th) Doctor. 

2) What I'm Writing

I took part in another flash fiction challenge by the YA Buccaneers which you can read here if you're interested.  After trying out last month's I definitely wanted another go at writing a 200 word story.  I absolutely loved it.  While I'm sometimes not the wordiest writer out there I still think I can get to the point a bit better and these flash fiction challenges really do help.


3) What Else I've Been Up To

Not much to be honest.  I've been catching up on all my TV programmes mainly.  The new seasons have all started so weekend mornings are spent snuggled up in a onesie and the newest episode showing. 

4) What Inspires Me Right Now

I have to give a huge shout out to Jaime Morrow who kindly took the time to read the first ten pages of Beast Inside.  This is the first time anyone other than me has read it so I was an absolute nervous wreck.  I was worried I'd get it back and find it was awful.  But Jaime was lovely.  She pointed out things that could be changed that I hadn't noticed before and gave feedback on what worked for her.  So helpful and it made me feel much better about my writing and this story.  It also made me think if it really is time to get over my fears and let an outside party read it.  So after this round of editing I'll get myself prepared for finding betas.  Thank you so much, Jaime! It was very inspiring. :)

15 Oct 2013

Walk the Plank! Halloween Special

I absolutely enjoyed last month's Walk the Plank challenge and when I saw the YA Buccaneers had made this month's flash fiction Halloween-themed I couldn't resist.  Seriously, I'm such an excited kid right now.  Halloween is right around the corner, next month is Bonfire Night, and the month after that it's Christmas.  Celebration heaven!

Walk the Plank is a flash fiction challenge organised by the YA Buccaneers.  Each month a theme is set and your goal is to write flash fiction on that theme.

This month's theme is Ghost Stories.  The rules are:
  • The story must be based on the theme.
  • The story has to be 200 words or less.  This is excluding the title.
For an extra challenge:
  • For an extra challenge begin your story with the words: "It was a cold, Halloween night." 
  • And end your story with the words: "I screamed" 
  • Use exactly 200 words.
***
The Worst Halloween
 
It was a cold, Halloween night.  Almost midnight and this was by far the worst Halloween I had ever experienced.  

First, I had taken my little sister around three whole blocks for trick or treating, practically dragging her back home kicking and screaming when it got to eight o’clock.  Then my friend had stood me up.  She was supposed to be driving us to a house party outside of town but here I was, stood on the side of the road, shivering.

Now I stumbled down the dimly lit street.  The world was fuzzy and there were bright flashing lights all around.  I was off home when I got a sharp pain in my side and passed out. When I woke my purse was gone. 

I wandered over to the crowd where the flashing lights were.  I called out to them.  Great.  Totally ignored.  I was in agony here and nobody seemed to give a shit.  

Oh.  

I realised the flashing lights was from an ambulance.  

I noticed the still body.  A young girl with the same costume as mine.  Same hair as well.  Same blue eyes…

No

I looked down at my side.  I saw the blood.

I screamed.

14 Oct 2013

Spooks-ational Settings: The Leeds City Varieties


The Leeds City Varieties

http://leeds-list.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/city-varieties-night-sh-web1-668x341.jpg
Photo Credit
A very old music hall in the heart of Leeds city centre, built way back in 1865. It's had it's fair share of names, starting as the Thornton's New Music Hall and Fashionable Lounge.  It's also been known as the White Swan City Varieties, Stansfield's Varieties, and the City Palace of Varieties, all before becoming the Leeds City Varieties Leeds locals know and love today.  It's recently had a huge refurbishment, closing back in 2009 and re-opening in 2011.  But that hasn't stopped the ghosties that are said to lurk in this famously spooky theatre.

The most disturbing sighting is that of a hanged man at the balcony, the reason behind his death and identity unknown.  The creepiest experience is the sound of a piano playing late at night.  Perhaps this is linked to the sightings of a man in a bowler hat and old fashioned clothes who is caught standing near a piano on the stage.  Who knows?

Like some theatre actors have a superstition about mentioning the play Macbeth if they are in the production, Leeds City Varieties has its own superstition linked to the ghost of a red headed lady.  Legend says if this apparition is spotted standing near the stage the play that is currently being performed at the time will be a success.  If she's seen outside of the performance area the production will be poorly received.

Tell me about a known haunted location near you!

9 Oct 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. Perfect for readers and writers who want to share what they've been up to on a weekly basis and right now the place to share your goals and track your progress for Ready. Set. Write!

1) What I'm Reading

I finished Storm Front by Jim Butcher.  Overall I really enjoyed it.  I've never known a character to
take so much crap and bad luck but Harry Dresden finally got there in the end.  So I was quite attached to the character.  I gave the book four stars and I'm also planning on pinching Pete's Dresden Files collection to read more in the future.

Now I'm reading Asylum by Madeleine Roux.  I snatched this up as soon as I read it was in the same style (presentation wise) as Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children.  Filled with photographs from real asylums the book so far is keeping the tension and mystery gradually paced which, for me, is making me stay up late just to read a tiny bit more before I have to finally give in to tiredness.  I have a good feeling with this book.  I like the characters, I'm liking the way the plot is paced and the mystery of it all.  The way I feel nervous about what's about to happen next instead of being full on gore and horror.

2) What I'm Writing

I actually tried working a bit on Consequences this weekend but I really have come to a grinding halt with it.  The plot has moved way too fast and I don't think the horror is effective enough.  So I'll leave it for now and concentrate on the projects I know where I am with.  That break worked when I started Beast Inside all those years ago, left it due to similar problems and came back into it with a better idea of things.

3) What Else I've Been Up To

I finally made time for some baking.  Since the Great British Bake Off started I've been getting idea on top of idea on top of idea with new things to try out.  I had a go at making flapjacks for the first time with a coconut and cherry flavour to them.  I'm wondering what to try out next...

Also started a new Zumba class at a local dance studio.  I've been actually thinking of getting back into dancing.  There's a Charleston workshop going on next week that you can drop in for and I hope to get myself booked in for the next ballroom/latin course next term.  I think I prefer dancing as exercise over the gym.  I'm really not a gym person.

4) What Inspires Me Right Now

A rather random thing inspired me the other day that got my brain all plotting and planning.  And since it's October I'll give you three guesses what the genre was as well.  ;)

25 Sep 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. Perfect for readers and writers who want to share what they've been up to on a weekly basis and right now the place to share your goals and track your progress for Ready. Set. Write!

1) What I'm Reading

Read a bit more on Storm Front.  I'm really enjoying the book.  I think it's great.  I'm only slow because I've been paying more attention on other things.  It's still too early to give a proper review and judgement but I'm sure it'll be a good review when I get round to it.  I do recommend Jim Butcher if you're looking for some urban fantasy.

2) What I'm Writing

Still working on a short story, which is all I've been working on at the moment.  I really want to go for it and submit something to a writing competition so my little Friday the 13th piece is going to be taking over from editing and drafting at the moment.

3) What Else I've Been Up To

I had my birthday last Sunday which was an excuse to have the best meal ever invented for Sundays.  A Sunday Roast.  We had lamb, my favourite, and the family roast potatoes which were absolutely gorgeous.  Seriously, if I wasn't cooking for just two and had more mouths to feed it would be a rule to have a roast dinner every week.  They're amazing.

4) What Inspires Me Right Now

It is officially Autumn now! Yay! I've swapped my nail polishes from summer to Autumn colours, got out the snug cardigans, and brought the Halloween playlist out! Are we ready for Spooktastic October? I'm getting all inspired from the creepy and the kooky! =D


23 Sep 2013

Inspirational Settings: The Forbidden Corner

The Forbidden Corner is a mystical and eccentric family garden in Middleham, Yorkshire. It is a
labyrinth of tunnels, mazes, chambers and paths that makes you wonder if you've accidentally fallen down a rabbit hole.  It's fun whether you're with family or friends.  Absolutely whimsical and actually perfect if you want to go down the fantasy writing route.  So I snapped some picks of the gardens for this week's inspirational setting post.

Even though it's a family outing place there are a few areas that are quite creepy.  The dark tunnels where you'd expect something to jump out at you and the mausoleum which have a few active ghosts lurking around.  Demonic looking dogs stand guard with their teeth gnashing while one statue looks like it may just follow your every step.  There's a darkness to this eccentric Northern world that likes to remind you what lurks beneath something that appears fully fantastical.

The characters that roam this garden stand watching, pointing you in the right direction and towering over you. Even though some of these characters are ghosts there's a gentle giant who is only focused on his work and a tree man who is there to show you the way.  If you're lucky you may even get a peek at the bears' poker game.

Don't be fooled by the garden's beauty because there is a mischievous side to The Forbidden Corner.  If you're not careful and you don't watch your step there's a cheeky force that gets you soaking wet.  They are hidden, you see, and are always waiting for that one unaware person to spray water at.  Charming.  Some areas are easily avoidable.  If you're fast you'll miss them.  But that just means they'll be more determined to find a way and you'll realise in time that the naughty forest will win.


18 Sep 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. Perfect for readers and writers who want to share what they've been up to on a weekly basis and right now the place to share your goals and track your progress for Ready. Set. Write!

1) What I'm Reading

I've been quite bad with the reading since September begin.  Work started two weeks ago and I've just been getting used to that, spending any free time writing and getting everything prepared for my phonics group.  I need to get some reading done this weekend, even if it's only another couple of chapters.

2) What I'm Writing

I tried flash fiction for the first time after seeing the YA Buccaneers challenge and got a really good idea for it.  I really enjoyed writing a story that short so I don't plan on that being my last go at flash fiction.

I'm also writing a short story for a writing competition based on Friday 13th.  Again, I read the challenge and got an idea for it so I'm going to give it a go and see how I do.  It's been ages since I wrote a short story to send off somewhere and I'd like to really get into the habit of writing them.   


3) What Else I've Been Up To

Getting back into the habit of going to work and getting used to Year 2 work and expectations.  I'm absolutely loving this year and teaching a little group of phase 5 phonics so I've been getting used to that. 

4) What Inspires Me Right Now

I've been watching the new season of Ghost Adventures to get back in the ghost writing mood.  And Pete's been watching Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood recently so while I'm catching glimpses of it I'm suddenly interested and inspired by Alchemy.  I'm hunting around for some decent books on it for research.

17 Sep 2013

Book Haul!

While my TBR pile is as tall as me I couldn't resist the small book haul I had recently.  My copy of Antigoddess by Kendare Blake finally arrived along with three others:

Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney



On a quiet fall evening in the small, peaceful town of Mill Valley, California, Dr. Miles Bennell discovered an insidious, horrifying plot. Silently, subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms were taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, his friends, his family, the woman he loved -- the world as he knew it.


The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The story begins with a lonely boy named Bastian and the strange book that draws him into the beautiful but doomed world of Fantastica. Only a human can save this enchanted place - by giving its ruler, the Childlike Empress, a new name. But the journey to her tower leads through lands of dragons, giants, monsters, and magic - and once Bastian begins his quest, he may never return. As he is drawn deeper into Fantastica, he must find the mysteries of his own heart.

Asylum by Madeleine Roux


Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.


16 Sep 2013

Walk the Plank: New Voyages!



Walk the Plank is a flash fiction challenge organised by the YA Buccaneers.  Each month a theme is set and your goal is to write flash fiction on that theme.

This month's theme is New Voyages.  The rules are:

  • The story must be based on the theme.
  • The story has to be 250 words or less.  This is excluding the title.

For an extra challenge:

  • For an extra challenge begin your story with the words: "It was the first day of..." 
  • And end your story with the words: "I feel ___ about the next day..." 
  • Use exactly 250 words
***
Welcome to Teaching


It was the first day of my new job.  I was officially Miss Brookes, Reception class teacher.  Me! A teacher! I was giddy as I saw the first group of new children walking up to the door, ready to present to them their brand new classroom.  A few of the taller ones strode along, big smiles on their faces but one was absolutely teeny.  A wee little thing who clung onto her mum’s hand and hid behind her as they walked, staring up at me with wide eyes.  It didn’t matter how big a smile I had on as I greeted them, she still burst into tears once she came inside.  

“Come on, darling,” I beamed, perching the small child on my hip and allowing her mum to make a quick getaway.  Snot ran down the girl’s face.  Nothing I couldn’t handle and I wiped her nose with a tissue.  

“Let’s have everyone on the carpet,” I said and I sat down in my chair, gently beckoning the wary children over.  They sat at my feet, staring up at me blankly, except for one little lad who jogged over to me with a lovely smile on his face.

“Yes, dear?” I asked when he tapped me on the shoulder.

“My name's Jordan.  And I’m gonna be sick.”

What? He didn’t just say…?

I shrieked as he vomited all over my new blouse and skirt.  Absolutely pouring out of him.

And the little sod was still grinning at me!