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28 Aug 2013

What's Up Wednesdays

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 started reading Storm Front by Jim Butcher which I'm loving at the moment.  Unfortunately it's opened my eyes a bit to the previous book I read The Unicorn Crisis  by Jon Rosenberg.  As I started reading this book I was thinking: snarky MC with powers? Started when he was a teenager? Killed someone with said powers? A murder has happened and he's a suspect? I think Rosenberg must have liked The Dresden Files a bit too much.  I did like The Unicorn Crisis but I'm a bit disappointed in all the elements of the story that are too similar.

2) What I'm Writing

Overall goal for Ready. Set. Write!: Complete July Camp NaNo to finish off the story I started in April's Camp NaNo and decided to put aside for a bit of a chill out. Also complete the round of edits I'm doing for Beast Inside. I'd like the 2nd and 3rd edits which I'm doing back to back to be finished by the end of summer.

Weekly goal for 28/08/2013 Get anything done, even if it's a little bit of writing.

I got some writing done.  Yay! I'm well into Chapter 31 of Beast Inside  and wrote a little more of Chapter 15 for Consequences. 

Overall I didn't get both stories finished which I was hoping for but I've worked quite a bit on them at least.  I'm going to keep going on them and get them both finished.  Then I might just concentrate on editing all the drafts I've completed so far.  I'm undecided about taking part in NaNo this year because of all the drafts I've finished and could do with working on.

3) What Else I've Been Up To

I'm currently in Darlington at the mo so I've been spending time with Pete's family.  Went to see The Mortal Instruments with his cousins and sister in the cinema.  Apart from another couple we were the only ones there.  The film was okay.  Wasn't too keen on some of the actorsLoved Simon and the actor who played him.  Great casting choice there.

Also went to The Forbidden Corner, a strange mystical park in North Yorkshire.  It's really a family outing sort of place so me, Pete, his cousin and her boyfriend must have looked a tad childish but it's great fun.  Apart from the areas that spray water at you.  I came out absolutely soaked and filthy from crawling through tiny tunnels.

4) What Inspires Me Right Now

Ready. Set. Write! has been an amazing inspiration and motivation.  Summer is the worst time for my writing.  Nothing ever gets done.  But this writing intensive has been brilliant in getting me to dedicate myself to writing goals and seeing that I achieve them.  I'm hoping there's another one next year!

The Forbidden Corner was a great source of inspiration.  It's such an eccentric, fantastical place that had my mind buzzing with ideas for a fantasy WiP.  I'll be doing an inspirational settings post on it along with Pompeii.  This summer has been amazing for great locations.

21 Aug 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
Well... it's supposed to be Storm Front but I haven't even picked it up.  That's going to change for next week.

2) What I'm Writing

Overall goal for Ready. Set. Write!: Complete July Camp NaNo to finish off the story I started in April's Camp NaNo and decided to put aside for a bit of a chill out.  Also complete the round of edits I'm doing for Beast Inside.  I'd like the 2nd and 3rd edits which I'm doing back to back to be finished by the end of summer.

 Weekly goal for 21/08/2013 Chapter 31 of Beast Inside and finish Chapter fifteen of Consequences.

Absolutely nada.  I haven't got round to any reading or writing since last Wednesday.  I don't know where the week has gone - I don't even know what happened to August - but I ended up just chilling out, having extra driving lessons and decided to take a week off from writing and reading.  

Weekly goal for 28/08/2013 Get anything done, even if it's a little bit of writing.

3) What Else I've Been Up To

I've been ghost hunting which was an awesome night.  I wrote a post on it here if anyone is interested.  And generally been chilling with family and spending time with Pete.  We went to see Kick-Ass 2 yesterday, kinda special since the first film was our first date, and ate out at an awesome world buffet.  We're a tad awkward.  I love Chinese food but can't eat Indian and Pete loves Indian food but can't stand Chinese.  A world buffet is the perfect place for us to pig out on the food we can't normally have at home.

4) What Inspires Me Right Now

I got a few ideas from the ghost hunt that has really inspired the WiPs I'm doing about ghost hunting.  I've been jotting a few ideas done already for the edits, equipment used, spooky scenes, etc.

20 Aug 2013

The Horror of Uncertainty

Last Saturday I took part in a ghost hunt at Thackray Medical Museum, a local museum near me that
Thackray Medical Museum
has a reputation for being haunted.  It was formerly an old Asylum and the Leeds Union Workhouse, built in 1858 to accommodate the poor.  During the First World War it was known as the East Leeds War Hospital caring for wounded soldiers.  In 1997 it was opened and since known as the Thackray Medical Museum.

Two reasons I signed up as soon as I saw it advertised:

1) I've always wanted to do a ghost hunt so that can be ticked off the bucket list.
2) I have a duology about teenage ghost hunters so this was the perfect research.

I love paranormal.  I love horror.  But I can still be a cynic.  I watch Most Haunted and roll my eyes half the time.  I don't believe in it at all and I'm sceptical of people's personal accounts.  Ironic since I've got a few claims myself after this ghost hunt.  But even on this ghost hunt I was thinking to myself 'yeah, sure. Whatever' at times. Still, odd things happened that even had the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

We never saw an actual ghost appear in front of us.  But we saw, heard, and experienced things that had everyone, even the sceptics, viewing things from a different perspective.  And that was where the horror was lying.  The events that were happening that may have a logical explanation to it but could also be explained as something else.  We were all unsure.  And that's what scared us.

There were parts of the ghost hunt that I thought could easily be contaminated as evidence of the paranormal and after life.  There were Ouija boards, table tipping, glass moving and while these things moved I was suspicious of a couple of people in the group.  I don't think any of the moving was paranormal.  What I was unsure of was the feeling of the table being kicked when we asked the spirit to.  We only had one hand on the table.  The torches stayed on to allow us to see.  If someone had moved to kick that table themselves we would have seen.  I'm not leaning towards the table creaking or moving from weight.  I could feel the table being violently kicked.  Real, hard thuds.  That's just my personal experience, you're quite welcome to laugh and roll your eyes.  I would if I was hearing this from someone else.

The worst place to be in that museum for me was the Wilkinson Gallery.  We went there twice, one as a whole group and then again split up into smaller groups.  The first time I was there I suddenly got a huge weight on my chest and it was very difficult for me to breathe.  Others felt heavy and there was a mixture of cold drafts and people feeling like they were burning up.  The second time I went in there I was in a smaller group.  We were all holding hands, calling out for anything to make a noise.  Light was coming from the hallway so again it was easy to see if someone was moving out of the circle.  We constantly heard tapping on the glass around us.  Like a fingernail gently tapping on it.  That's another thing I was finding hard to explain logically.  Then as we were using a glass to communicate (basically works like an Ouija board. Everyone puts a finger on it and it's supposed to move around) I started to burn up.  My forehead was dripping with sweat and I wanted to throw up so I had to leave the room.  The rest of the night I felt fine.  I was quite happy to walk around in a partially dark building.  But in that room I felt awful both times.  And I'm unsure.  I don't know whether it was all psychological or paranormal. 

There's a small theater room in the museum that shows the story of a young girl who had her leg crushed when working with machines, back when Thackray was a workhouse.  Again while we did a seance in pitch black there was a dim light from the hallway so we could see out at least.  Along with a few others I saw shadows moving around outside, some saw them walking by, I saw a tiny shadow just dart behind the wall.  Almost like I'd caught them peeking in and they quickly hid.  Pete had seen dark shadows moving near the stage and he'd seen them again during the second seance in smaller groups.  From that stage there was quite a bit of banging, whistling and at one point I'd even felt cold breathing on my neck.  Both of us had our backs to the stage so I thought it was quite strange that Pete had seen shadows moving right behind us and I'd felt someone's breath on my neck.

In the Victorian street we were told the ghost of little children roamed about.  We were each put in different parts of the street and had sweets in our hand, which the children apparently moved about in your palm, pinched them, and even unwrapped them.  In darkness one girl swore her sweet had just been knocked out of her hands but it was pitch black.  Honestly, she could have easily dropped it or knocked it out herself.  I didn't think that was a great way to prove spirits existed.  But something strange did happen.  Before we had been given our sweets and sent into different areas to put our torches down and turn them off I'd had my camera strap around one wrist and my torch strap around the other.  I'd set them both down right next to my feet and we did the seance.  When our lights came

back on I'd picked up my torch and my strap was gone.  I had a look everywhere in the area I had been but it was gone.  It later turned up in the theater room.  The strap connects to the torch through two little holes and you fit it in on like a keyring.  I've tugged on it, shook it, held it only by the strap but it doesn't come off easily.  I honestly can't explain that unless the ghost team eat a lot of carrots and can see perfectly in the dark to pull a prank like that.  Maybe someone can find a reasonable explanation for me? I could do with Jonathan Creek for this.

The little knocking in the dark, the tapping on glass when requested to, shadows moving in front of a clear light, my missing wrist strap, cold drafts on one side of your body but not the other... these little things that aren't quite clear.  Things that could have a reasonable explanation but at the time it happens it makes a cold chill run down your spine.  It makes the skin on your arm rise up into tiny bumps and the back of your neck prickle. Experiences that happen in one split second but it's enough to make your head buzz and the sense that actually, maybe, that moving shadow in the dark is not your eyes playing tricks on you and it really does feel like it's watching you...

15 Aug 2013

WriteOnCon

Another year has gone by and WriteOnCon has been another success.  Great (online) conferences and great opportunities for people to submit some of their WiPs and get feedback from others.  I've found WriteOnCon to have extremely helpful fellow writers and authors who are willing to take their time, look at your work, and give friendly and constructive critiques. 

My favourite part are the posts by guest speakers.  The insights to writing and getting published, for all markets from PB to NA.  These were the most helpful:

Tuesday 13th August

How Character and Plot Work Together   By Liesl Shurtliff

Idea Factory  By author Natalie Whipple

Creating Voice in Fiction By author Joy Preble

Courage and Kid Lit by literary agent Peter Knapp 

Adding Emotion to your Writing  by author Lenore Applehans

Wednesday 14th August

Surprise, Suspense, and Paramystamance  By author Kimberly Derting

A Day in the Life of a Writer By author Gretchen McNeil (my favourite of the day! Also, eerily familiar!)

Setting the Tone with a Great Query Letter By Tracy Marchini

Did you check out WriteOnCon this year?

14 Aug 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 Iron Queen which I gave four stars to.  Definitely the best Iron Fey book I've read so far.  For the next read I've picked up Storm Front by Jim Butcher, the first in the Dresden Files series.  My boyfriend really likes them and has been recommending them to for a while.  It's time to try one out.  This is the blurb to Storm Front.



Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or
Other Entertainment.

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things — and most of them don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever.

There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get… interesting.

Magic. It can get a guy killed.


2) What I'm Writing

Overall goal for Ready. Set. Write!: Complete July Camp NaNo to finish off the story I started in April's Camp NaNo and decided to put aside for a bit of a chill out.  Also complete the round of edits I'm doing for Beast Inside.  I'd like the 2nd and 3rd edits which I'm doing back to back to be finished by the end of summer.

Weekly goal for 15/8/2013 Chapter 30 of Beast Inside, make sure I'm caught up on the 3rd edits on the computer for BI, and go over what I've done so far for Consequences so I can get back into writing that.

I finished Chapter 30 in the second edits and am up to date with all the chapters for the third round of edits. 

Weekly goal for 21/08/2013 Chapter 31 of Beast Inside and finish Chapter fifteen of Consequences.

3) What Else I've Been Up To
I've been lurking around WriteOnCon, reading people's work and looking at the posts that guest speakers have written.  I've seen some fantastic work that must be published one day.  There are some future authors lurking around the forums.

I also put a query people helped me with last year up for another critique in the 'setting the tone' workshop.  Honestly, I've come out more confused than ever because the advice people gave me last year is conflicting with the advice people have given me this year.  So I'm back to being stuck with queries.  I think what I'll do is write another query with the advice I got this time and maybe see if there's somewhere on Absolute Write that critique queries and both put versions up for feedback and answers. 

4) What Inspires Me Right Now
WriteonCon.  Seeing other people's work as they query and bravely put part of their WiP up for critique has sort of given me a writing boost.  I want to be at that stage when I'm ready for the big query send out.  I want to be ready for betas and outside opinion. :)

12 Aug 2013

Inspirational Settings: Rome

I've always dreamed of going to Italy.  I love the language and I love Italian food.  And I love a city that is rich in history.  Rome was the perfect choice for mine and Pete's first holiday together.

Colosseum on the left and the Roman Forum ahead
In a way it reminds me of York.  Surrounded by old Roman walls that sealed the city off, it's kept the
buildings of the past for people to see today.  People have worked so hard at keeping them restored.  Ruins are dotted around the city, from the old Roman Forum to the baths and the training grounds for the gladiators.  The Colosseum still has parts of the old building but have also had new structures added to it to ensure that visitors and locals alike can still revel in a brutal yet astonishing history.

As for modern day Rome, I have never felt so comfortable in a city before.  I never had the chance to learn Italian at school and all I had with me was a phrasebook and random pieces and sentences of Italian to get me through.  Those lovely Italians were really patient with me as I attempted to speak the language.  But the entire city was friendly.  You step into a taxi, a hotel, a bus, restaurant... anywhere and you'll hear the words 'prego' every time.  It's a custom in Italy to say that which seemed to generally mean 'welcome' or 'please do'.  You say 'grazie' to them and they'll respond with 'prego'.  You walk into a restaurant, ask for a table and they'll direct you uttering 'prego'.  I think it's purpose is a general pleasantry.

As well as being friendly it is absolutely busy and I'll admit the roads are a little scary.  Cars weave in and out of each other as they move yet they seem to do it with such grace.  Most people ride on scooters to avoid the heavy traffic that can build up.  I guarantee you'll always find a spot in Rome where there is nothing in parking spaces apart from a long line of scooters.

Inside the Colosseum
The busiest places are always around the tourist centers.  The Colosseum and Trevi Fountain in particular.  You'll be dodging your way through the crowds at the Colosseum with about five different tour guides tracking you to buy a ticket, centurions asking if you want a photograph, and stall owners waving hats, ice cold bottle of waters, and umbrellas in your face.  The last three came in handy.  The temperatures rose up to 38 degrees so everyone would have a large sunhat on, a umbrella shielding them from the sun in one hand and a bottle of water that had chunks of ice in the other hand.  As for the Trevi Fountain I have no idea what time is best to go.  We visited it as the night was drawing in
Trevi Fountain
and the crowds were still gathered.  They sat around the benches and the edge of the fountain getting their pictures taken or being videoed as they threw a coin in the fountain.  You really had to get a Londoner Walk on and push your way through otherwise you'd never see it properly or get to throw a coin.

One of the best things about going in August was waiting for night to fall and going to one of the restaurants near by.  It was gorgeous sitting under a shelter when it was a bit cooler but still warm enough to wear a summer dress with a cold pint of beer and your meal in front of you.  I'll say this, Italians know how to cook.  The lasagna melted in your mouth, the pizzas were huge, and at one restaurant we had the most amazing steak I've ever tasted.  It wasn't a flat piece that I usually find in my local supermarket, this was a huge chunk of steak.  Served with a bit of salad it was perfect.  Everything I ate was perfect.  This was literally me for the whole trip:

Seriously, Rome has ruined food for me.  I'm even doubting my lasagna recipe.

And the most interesting fact I learned: The Colosseum isn't actually the Colosseum.  That building is the Flavian Amphitheatre and gained the name in Medieval times.  One of theories say it got its namesake from being near to the Colossus of Nero, a giant bronze statue.  This is where the statue used to stand:






And here are a few more pictures of around Rome:

Piazza Navona
Pantheon
Roman Walls
Around the Catacombs of San Callisto 


8 Aug 2013

What's Up Yesterday

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
Since last week I finished The Unicorn Crisis by Jon Rosenberg which I gave 4/5 stars to on Goodreads.  Overall, I really liked it.  The world Rosenberg had built was fascinating.  In The Hidden Academy series some people have the power to summon things, basically being known as Summoners.  These summonings can range from the simple things that exist in our world such as bacon sandwiches (which does get summoned in the book at one point) to mythological creatures from other worlds such as unicorns (hence the title) and dangerous beings like Fire Lords.  Great book! But it's only available on kindle.

After The Unicorn Crisis I read The Drifter by Richie Tanskersley Cusick.  I only gave that 2/5 stars.  If that had been the first and only book by the author I probably would have given it a higher rating.  But after reading Trick or Treat and Fatal Secrets it's way too similar.  Paranoid female heroine.  Mysterious, creepy boys.  Absentee parents who don't listen.  Ghostly happenings that may not be that paranormal.  It's the same plot with a different location and a different ghost story behind it.  I was a bit disappointed.

Currently I'm reading The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa.  Ash is still my least favourite character.  He's not so much a dick in this book but now he's all boring and mushy.  Bleurgh.  Give me Puck any day.  I'm about 60% into the book.

2) What I'm Writing

Overall goal for Ready. Set. Write!: Complete July Camp NaNo to finish off the story I started in April's Camp NaNo and decided to put aside for a bit of a chill out.  Also complete the round of edits I'm doing for Beast Inside.  I'd like the 2nd and 3rd edits which I'm doing back to back to be finished by the end of summer.

 Weekly goal for 7/8/2013 I'll be away for a week without my laptop so I'll be leaving Consequences for now.  I just want to get Chapter 27 finished for next week.

I managed to write Chapter 27, along with Chapters 28 and 29.

Weekly goal for 15/8/2013 Chapter 30 of Beast Inside, make sure I'm caught up on the 3rd edits on the computer for BI, and go over what I've done so far for Consequences so I can get back into writing that.

3) What Else I've Been Up To
I went to Rome for a week which was absolutely amazing.  The city was so beautiful and historic. 
Colosseum at night
All the ruins and ancient buildings they've kept, restoring them all for us to see in the modern day.  It's incredible.  I learnt some interesting facts that would even be handy for work if I ever teach the Romans.  I also went to Pompeii for the day which is an incredible place.  It's amazing to see but also quite tragic considering the history.  Mount Vesuvius managed to behave itself for the day.  For some reason I was convinced it was extinct.  It isn't.  =/

I've been catching up on everything I've missed in the last week.  Lovely news in real life with friends getting married and engaged.  Always nice to hear.  The biggest excitement was the reveal of the 12th Doctor.  I quite like the look of Peter Capaldi already so I'm looking forward to see what he brings to the show. I really hopes he does well.  The Doctor must be an intimidating role to be given.  There's so much pressure surrounding the character.

I'll most likely be doing posts on Rome, Pompeii, and Doctor Who so I'll leave my ramblings there. ;)

4) What Inspires Me Right Now
Pompeii was a very inspiring place which I'll show you pictures of in a future post.  WriteOnCon is coming soon (August 13-14th) which always gets me in the writing bug.  The program looks amazing!