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31 May 2012

Author Idol

Today is the last day of Blog Me MAYbe.  It's been great fun and really helpful in thinking of posts.  I might actually take some of these prompts away and come up with a proper schedule.  I was thinking mixing the Monday and Thursday writing prompts together - discussing writing whether it's someone else's or anything from my WiPs.  So I can gush about a character from another book or do a review. 

Wednesdays will be RTW.  Fridays - News to Novels and Sundays will be a quick update on ROW80. 

For one last post on Blog Me MAYbe, I want to introduce you guys to the author who started the whole dream. 

Darren Shan.

From years 7 to 9 in High School we always had a library session in English every two weeks where classes would take it in turns to sit in the library and just read.  That would be our entire lesson.  We could either bring in a book we were already reading from home or take one from the library with the option to borrow it if we were enjoying it. 

I wasn't reading anything new at the moment so one day I was waiting to get something from the library.  I came across the fourth Saga of Darren Shan novel and started reading.  I don't think I got into it much because I went straight for number four and had no clue what had been going on previously.  So I popped it back when the class had finished and next time tried looking for the first one.

I was completely hooked. 

I loved the voice, I loved the vampires.  The Cirque days of the Saga became my favourite part because it was so quirky and freaky.  From the beginning death was a huge part of these books.  The first book was heart-wrenching when it showed a young boy giving everything up to save his friend.  And again the second when a lovable, innocent character died in a very gruesome way while another character had both his arms taken off. 

Darren Shan was bloody and brutal from the start.  And as the series went on, Darren suffered more and more, seeing more people die, becoming more involved in this war as well as worrying about his future self that was prophesied.  Shan wasn't merciful in his writing.  The nice guys met horrible ends and the main character wasn't even safe from danger and never got a break.  Real life for the MC Darren was not kind.

When I started writing, I wanted to write like Darren Shan.  He was the inspiration behind writing and still is.

30 May 2012

RTW - Writer Heaven

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
 This Week's Topic:
What writing conference(s) would you love to go to?

The only writing conference I've ever been to is the one hosted by my former university.  Every year in March Leeds Trinity held the Writer's Festival where we had guest authors conducting writing workshops on a variety of topics and a chance to meet and talk with other writers.  It wasn't just for the students of LTUC.  Anyone was welcome.  I couldn't go this year because of work and it'll be the same next year but when I take a year out to study I hope I'll have the chance to then. 

I've always thought the UK don't do many events like this apart from comic-cons and collectormania.  But SCBWI sounds like I'd have the opportunity to meet up with writers from around the UK.  Cheaper than flying overseas (it'll be years before I can afford a trip to America).  And it'll be nice to meet fellow UK writers, people who are close by and you can have the opportunity to talk in person, not just through blogs or forums.   

BEA sounds fantastic.  I'd be in heaven.  But I think it lands at a time when I'm working and I'm not in the sort of job where I can just take a holiday whenever.  Y'ALLfest sounds awesome just because it's focus is YA.  My kind of place.  But if I did have the money I still couldn't go.  I doubt it'd be half term around that time.  

28 May 2012

Shiny New Characters

Last week I showed a glimpse of the new WiP for JuNo.  Plenty of witchy pictures and anarchist music. :D Now it's time to meet the victims characters of Inside the Broom Closet.

Hannah Wiley
Hannah has just moved away from her town where witch hunting is getting out of control and gone to live near her cousin's.  She's quite reserved, having previously experienced bullying at her old school but is fortunately getting her confidence back slowly but surely.  She can be quite immature, normally teasing her cousin, Ashley, in front of his friends (to put him down a peg or two) and very frank.  She's learning to speak her mind again and is ready to protest and rebel against the Witch Hunts thanks to Connor's influence.  She has the same impulsiveness to jump straight into rebelling without thinking of the consequences.

Connor Moore
Anarchist in the making.  There are years of anger boiling up there and Connor's about to finally blow.  He hates the government, he hates discrimination, and he thinks he's the guy to stand up and start a fight.  He's opinionated as hell - there's not really a topic that he doesn't have an opinion of.  He's quite the open character.  What you see is what you get... apart from the witch thing but that's due to change.  He's loud, confident, and he thinks he can turn the law around.  If I had to have an image of Connor it would probably be a cross between Sid Vicious and Christian Slater in Heathers

Theresa 'Tess' Denver
Theresa is probably the quietest character of the trio even though she mainly leads the circles.  While Hannah and Connor are ready to bring their own anarchy Tess is in the background, warning and warning them.  But she can have a sharp tongue if necessary.  Seriously... don't piss her off too much.  If you're not going to listen to her she'll make sure you do.  It's honestly for your own good.  She's dealing with her own discrimination, fed up at school about the gossip and attitude towards her.  Really, she's just looking forward to the day where she can get the hell out and go off to university very far away.  She's tempted to rebel but her step-uncle's parishioners give her hope that there are better ways to start standing up and she has supporters. 

Ashley Harris
Bullied like Hannah, Ashley thought the best defence was fitting in more and he's done so.  He's happier with more friends and a better social life.  So of course he's the one who's abilities just mess up all the time.  If he hasn't bothered trying to control his gifts then they're just going to go haywire on him.  So he's always alert, paranoid, and worrying to point where his nails must be chewed off.  He's absolutely worried sick of being found out and killed.  Naturally he's freaking out all the time when Hannah moves to town and gets to know Connor more.  They're only going to cause trouble for him. 

And those are my new playthings. :) I'm looking forward to writing their story. 

27 May 2012

ROW80 Check-in 27/05/2012

Last week I wanted to up my challenge from getting one chapter finished to two on Beast Inside.  I've finished one chapter and I'm about 1/4 in the second chapter, a short one which will be finished tonight.  I doubt I'm going to finish this round of editing by the end of May but at least I'm well into it now.  I know what I want from this editing so it shouldn't be too bad writing up the changes.  I'll see how much more I can get done this week.

On Friday JuNo finally starts.  Woop! And luckily it's also my half term holiday so I'm hopefully going to get a lot of writing done in the first week before it's back to work and the crazy last term.  And when I mean crazy it's going to be insane.  Next September we hopefully will have a new school building where all the year groups can be in one place instead of scattered on two different sites.  So this last term won't just involve taking down displays and getting resources in for next year.  Oh no, we'll literally be moving every single thing in our school to the new building.  It's going to be chaotic.  So the more words I can get done ASAP the better.  I'm hoping by next Sunday I'll have at least the first 5000 words done.

Check out everyone else's progress here! :)

26 May 2012

News to Novels #18

The first article I found gave me the idea for this week's theme.  In YA there's always going to be a book about teenage pregnancy.  I think it's something teenagers should be able to read about - to learn what can happen and see the consequences and experience for different characters in different situations. 

The teenagers who have had EIGHT abortions: Shocking figures show girls use 'traumatic' procedure as a form of contraception
Thousands of teenagers are having repeat abortions, with some undergoing at least eight terminations.  Latest figures suggest many girls are using the procedure as a form of contraception, with pro-life campaigners claiming they are being ‘let down in an appalling way’.  For one in seven teenagers who had an abortion in 2010, it was not their first.

'They thought I was nuts': Meet the high school student who faked her own pregnancy - for a social experiment
Most students are happy to choose a conventional topic for their senior year project.  But aspiring social worker Gaby Rodriguez was determined to do something a little more challenging for hers, even if it meant lying to her whole school.  So the 17-year-old student from Washington State faked her own pregnancy, spending months wearing a fake belly to convince her friends - and gather their reactions.

Teenage girl left to bring up four siblings alone after losing parents
A teenage girl is to raise her four brothers and sisters after they were orphaned, losing both parents within just four months.  Mother, Denise aged 35 died days after giving birth in March followed by their dad, Alex, 41, who died last week from an infection which spread from a cut in his arm.  The couple, who lived in Heywood had four children - David, 14, Sean, 11, Sarah, 2, and baby Liam - while Rachel Thorp, 19, and her brother Daniel, 20, are Alex's children from a previous marriage.

'I'm pregnant': Teenage 'rape victim' forced to stand before congregation and confess HER 'sin' while 'attacker' watched
Tina Anderson was only 15-years-old when she was forced to stand in front of her entire church to confess her ‘sin’ – that she had become pregnant.  What she was not allowed to tell the congregation was that the pregnancy was allegedly the result of being raped by a church deacon, who was sat in the church.  She claimed the pastor of her New Hampshire church told her she was lucky not to have been born during Old Testament times when she would have been stoned to death.

Mayor denies pregnancy 'pact' in Massachusetts school where 17 teenagers are expecting
The mayor of a Massachusetts city that drew attention for a spike in teenage pregnancies denied on Monday a media report that a group of girls entered a pact to become pregnant.  "I am not able to confirm the existence of a pact," Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk told reporters after meeting with local school and health officials to discuss a June 18 Time magazine report about teenagers who entered a pact to get pregnant and raise babies together.  "Any planned blood-oath bond to become pregnant, there is absolutely no evidence of," she added, blaming a rise in pregnancies on a lack of health education funding and the media's "glamorization of pregnancy."

25 May 2012

Random Fridays

The last Friday for Blog Me MAYbe where I go on a crazy geeky search and show you awesome videos I've found on youtube.  I adore cats (even my devil of a cat I guess) so this week I'm going on a crazy cat girl spree and bring you my favourite cat videos, full of insanity, comical and the cute!

Thriller cat

Surprise Kitty

St Paddy's Day Kitty

No No No Cat

Enjoy the weekend!

24 May 2012

World Idol

I love fantasties and dystopias purely because of the world building.  What's this world like? What's the history or the new history? I'm obsessed with setting, even in worlds set in real life.  And one of my favourite settings is Discworld by Terry Pratchett.

I love the folkloric background that's inspired the world to begin with.  If you haven't read The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson I really recommend it because it gives tons of info about the type of lore Pratchett was inspired by to create all the species and myths he's put into Discworld as a whole.  It was my absolute saviour when I did my research report on Pratchett. 

In creating the concept of the Discworld Pratchett talks about old Indian and Hindu theories and myths:

'the age-old epic poems of India declare the world to be a disc' (p. 23 The Folklore of Discworld)

There are myths of four great elephants guarding the disc or it is one great elephant that the world rests on, who is also standing on the back of a tortoise.  I loved how Pratchett took this research and blending them together to get his own Discworld.  The fun about lore is finding legends and myths from all over the world that are quite similar and bring them all together to create an entirely different myth of your own. 
When I was doing my report one of the books I studied and discussed was Lord and Ladies.  One my favourites reading about.  In Discworld the elves are evil and threatening, just the way they used to be according to Pratchett.  Rather than going by modern legends that elves are mischievous but helpeful little sprites Pratchett goes for older legends where the elves and fairies tricked people into their deaths.  With all the parody and comical characters like Nanny Ogg I like that little bit of darkness to Discworld.  It's not all silly and humorous.  There are actual dangerous things lurking around in Discworld.  It's a fantastical world but keep your eyes open if you're wandering around!

I honestly admire the detail that's gone into every inch of creating this world.  Every area, the seas... I wouldn't know where to start with world building. 

23 May 2012

RTW - Choose your path...

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
INSURGENT theme! What faction are you?

I've only just started reading Divergent but I've got a general idea of the different factions and what they represent in a person.  I knew from the start which faction I'd probably fit into best, although their actions suggest they're not the nicest at the moment!
ABNEGATION: Definitely couldn't be in this one.  I'm not selfless all the time.  There are times when I will want to just think of myself and put my own priorities first.  I like fashion and I like to spend some time making sure I look decent with a little bit of make-up on.  Abnegation just sound a little too cult-like for me.  It wouldn't be a faction I could easily fit into. 
CANDOR: Another one I've definitely ruled out.  While I admire honesty in a person I couldn't be as frank as the Candor are supposed to be.  I'll happily tell a white lie and so couldn't be honest all the time.  There are times when you have distort the truth to keep a person happy.  Like, for example, telling my grandma 'Oh no, I didn't go on any huge rollercoasters!' when I totally did.  She'd have a heart attack if she knew I was into the adrenaline rides at fairs and theme parks.
AMITY: I'm not the type to seek confrontation and try to avoid it at all costs.  I just don't like it.  I'm quite a quiet person IRL.  But there are times when you have to be ready to argue and fight just to defend yourself.  I live in a pretty rough area of Leeds so if I was ever confronted for a fight I'd have to be ready to fight back because there is no way in hell I'd let myself stand there and get my arse kicked.  Some people you just can't talk to. 
ERUDITE: Now I feel bad because from what I've read so far about this faction they're being right arseholes to Abnegation.  Despite that they fit my personality the most.  I've always been the studious learner, constantly surrounded by books.  I'm on the path to teaching so my future career also fits in with them.  I'm a huge believer of knowledge is power.  I wouldn't become one of the Erudites who are out to get Abnegation but I do wonder... if they're the faction who research and find information out maybe there is something going on with Tris' old faction.  I notice the character is determined to see the good in her faction but I'm curious to know if there's something dodgy going on.  We already have Dauntless and Erudite who sound like they've been corrupted over the years and completely different from the way they used to behave and what they believed in.  Maybe it's been happening to Abnegation.
DAUNTLESS: I know I said previously that I'm the type to be going on all the adrenaline rides.  I'm usually the one trying to get everyone else to go on these rides with me.  And I'm also the kind of person who's ready to stand up for myself.  But if I still fought it doesn't mean I'd be any good.  I'm a terrible fighter.  I just wave my hands around and hope that it hits the person in the face at some point.  Doesn't matter if I get really angry with someone and wish to punch their lights out.  I bet my punch would feel like a poke.  The facebook quiz said I'd fit into Dauntless but I really disagree.  I couldn't go through all the training the initiates go through.  I couldn't go through all that pain - I am an absolutely wuss when it comes to pain - and couldn't do daredevil things like jump off a train.  I don't see myself as a brave, tough person so I'm going to rule that faction out.  It's not for me. 
Right, Erudite... let's see this library of yours!

21 May 2012

Something witchy this way comes...

In one week and four days June will be here and I'll once again be zooming through a month of constant writing as I attempt to make it up to 50,000 words.  I've been planning Inside the Broom Closet slowly, getting the characters down, creating a playlist for inspiration, and pinning any pics that help me visualise characters or little scenes from the plot. 

Next week I'll introduce the shiny new characters but for now I've got the playlist I wanted to share and some pictures from my pinterest board.

The playlist

1) Wytches - Inkubus Sukkubus
2) Land of Confusion - Disturbed
3) Pagan Born - Inkubus Sukkubus
4) Minority - Green Day
5) Cassie - Flyleaf
6) Locking up the Sun - Poets of the Fall
7) Anarchy in the UK - The Sex Pistols
8) Holiday - Green Day

And some pictures:
The two teenage covens together.  Although, is it a good thing?

Me and my friends created this altar in the teen years

If you're caught...
 The rest you can find here if you're interested. :)

20 May 2012

ROW80 Check In 20/05/12

Last week I said I hoped to start chapter six of Beast Inside sometime in the week.  It's going to be a short one, focusing on Caleb just straight after being attacked and bitten.  The aim there is to start showing some kind of distance in him already.  Denial, fear, and acting a little bizarre.  Part of it's the shock of what's just happened and what's he just realised actually exists in real life.  But the bite is turning him already as well.  I'm about half way through and going to finish that tonight.  I don't want pages and pages on Caleb and Joshua going :OHEMGEE VAMPS EXIST! DUDE... YOUR BITE HAS DISAPPEARED? WTF?

That's honestly not the way they talk in the book by the way. 

I'm so looking forward to getting Caleb all vamped up! Dude's gonna get evil! It's going to be so much fun this time round because there's more to write about his transformation.  I rushed it in the first draft so I never explored fully what he's going through, his feelings, and overall how bloodthirsty and hateful he's becoming.

To make this week a bit more challenging I'm hoping to write two more chapters by next Sunday.  I'll finish six tonight so I'm aiming to reach and finish chapter eight.  My overall aim was to finish this round of edits by the end of May, just so I've got June to leave it behind for a while and focus on Inside the Broom Closet.

Still planning a little bit on that WiP.  I've got more pictures up on pinterest that's helping me see the WiP more in my head.  I like a lot of visuals. :)

Come see how well everyone is doing this week! 

19 May 2012

News to Novels #17

Gang related articles this week.  Blame The Freedom Writers.  It's one of my favourite films and as I was watching it today I thought it'd be interesting to look up articles on teen gangs:

The first hoodies: Warring yobs and utterly powerless police. No, not 2009, but a Victorian England terrorised by teenage gangs
At 9.45pm on Sunday, August 3, a gang of youths from North Manchester went to war.  Armed with knives and heavy-buckled belts, they left their regular stamping ground and marched for a mile-and-a-half to meet their enemy.  Their grim determination drew stares from bystanders along the way, but apart from the odd cry of defiance, none dared intervene. 

For when the armed mob from Harpurhey arrived at their destination, a pub in the Ancoats area of the city, the purpose of their mission became apparent.  There, gathered round the door, stood a cluster of members of the Bengal Tigers, the most notorious gang in Manchester, named after the street in which most of them lived.   Within seconds, the opposing gangs charged at each other, swinging the heavy buckle ends of their thick leather belts above their heads. Several of the youths fell to the ground. One, who caught a blow to the head with a belt, felt his right eye haemorrhage, just weeks after he had lost the use of his left eye in a previous street fight. Those still standing pulled out their knives and plunged the blades into the necks, shoulders and backs of a dozen or so gang members. The wounds, like the confrontation itself, were carefully planned; the purpose was to maim and disfigure, not kill.

Within minutes the fight was over. The gang had achieved what they came for and quickly dispersed into groups of two or three to make them less conspicuous on their walk home.  The bloody, vicious encounter might well have occurred in any of Britain's major cities on a typical weekend last summer in 'knife-crime Britain'. In fact, it took place more than a century ago in 1890 and heralded the explosion of Britain's violent youth gangs.

Abandoned by their parents, betrayed by schools, young boys are now turning to criminal gangs for protection and a sense of belonging
With their hierarchies and strict discipline, street gangs are nothing more than a distorted mirror image of the house system common in private schools.  Loyalty and team effort are all-important. As one young gang leader from Kilburn, North-West London, told me chillingly. 'You have to know the people, you have to trust the people, because you do everything together. When you stab, you stab together.' Most boys who join gangs aren't irredeemably evil. They are teenagers from low-income families who have been let down by their schools, their parents and other adults.

Count yourself VERY lucky Charlie
This week Charlie Gilmour emerged from Wayland Prison in Norfolk. He has served just four months of the 16-month sentence handed down to him in July for swinging from the Cenotaph and violent disorder while high on drugs during last year’s student protests over tuition fees.  With a cigarette tucked jauntily behind his ear, he was met by a chauffeur-driven car and his no doubt relieved father, the Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour.  Like the Gilmours, I have tried to support a young man — in fact, two young men — making their way through the criminal justice system during the past year. But I have seen it from a very different perspective.

Rape is normal and part of being accepted into a group, says reformed female gangster
Street gang girls will risk being raped in return for their membership of a group - according to a reformed woman gangster.  Isha Nembhard, former member of an 80-strong gang in Peckham, south London, said being sexually abused when associating with male gangs was becoming normalised for many young woman.  The 20-year-old said: 'It is about low self esteem and a craving for attention. Even if they know it's wrong, they will do it to get acceptance.'

18 May 2012

Random Fridays

This week Season 7 of Supernatural comes to an end.  I was introduced to the show two years ago and fell in love with it from the start.  Sadly, the recent series aren't as good as the early seasons but I've kept watching.  The show has had some amazing creepy moments that has truly freaked me out, especially if it's involved clowns but the best part about the show is the comedy.  It blends drama and comedy well. 

So to say a goodbye to Supernatural for now here are my top five comedy moments:

1) Yellow Fever: Dean's Scream
In this episode Dean is infected by a ghost who died a horrible death.  It targets people who are seen as jerks (which Dean can be at times) and infects them, making them experience some aspects of his own death as well as making them absolutely terrified of everything until they start hallucinating and die of fright.  This is one of my favourite scenes of the episode:

2) Yellow Fever: Eye of the Tiger dance
This is actually an extra during the credits at the end of the episode.  In Yellow Fever Dean has left the apartment to be in his car because their room is just too high up.  Sam catches him briefly drumming to Eye of the Tiger and this little bonus clip shows Jensen Ackles taking the song further and performing a very entertaining dance:

3) Mystery Spot: Groundhog day for Sam, many deaths for Dean
In Mystery Spot the Trickster is up to his trolling tricks and sends Sam into Groundhog Day where he witnesses Dean dying many times.  Poor Dean is electrocuted, hit by a car, chokes, crushed by a piano while Sam is growing increasingly fed up:

4) Free to Be You and Me: Personal Space
When Sam goes off on his own Dean teams up with the angel Castiel to find the Archangel Raphael.  When the brothers are on hunts they usually use fake IDs, usually FBI to get information and access to the crime sights they're checking out.  From the beginning Castiel has been my favourite character, starting out as a no-nonsense angel with a gruff voice and poker face.  He has his angel duties and nothing will get in the way.  But slowly he starts to question his duties and God overall, becoming a close friend to Sam and Dean and we also start to see how unintentionally funny Castiel can be.  As he stays more on Earth he shows just how socially inept he can be and how much he doesn't get humanity and being human:

5) The French Mistake: Sam and Dean try to act
One of the things the writers behind Supernatural love doing is acting all meta and poking fun at their own TV show.  The French Mistake sees Balthazar sending Sam and Dean into the "real world" where they are actors called Jared and Jensen and currently filming a show called Supernatural.  Misha Collins (Castiel) plays an exaggerated version of himself: an actor who is addicted to twitter.  This is my favourite scene where Sam and Dean attempt to act like themselves in the show. 

17 May 2012

Vampire Idol

You all know by now I adore vampires.  Well, I adore the vampires in film and television who are the antagonists.  Brutal, creepy, and threatening.  The ones who don't mess around and fall in love with humans.  None of that silly behaviour. 

I have a few top favourite vampire flicks but one film has a bloodsucker that has always stood out.  One of the vampires that acts true to his nature and would scare the crap out of me if I came across him in a dark alley.  Chances are I wouldn't get out alive.  No-one gets out alive with him around. 

Meet Severen from Near Dark.

Played by Bill Paxton, Severen is the insane, blood thirsty vampire who enjoys a good hunt.  He's quite enthusiastic about a kill, playing around with his prey either by pretending he's (slightly) normal or letting the victim think they're actually hurting him before he flashes that manic grin and goes for the throat.

The film focuses on Caleb, a young man who turns his charm on the wrong girl.  He's bitten, turned into a vampire and is picked up by this girl and her "family" of travelling vamps.  The rest are ready to give Caleb a chance to prove he can be a killer and Severen goes along with it but that's not stopping him from threatening to blow his head off.  He's wild, always looking for action and trouble with a right gob on him.  His brutality is terrifying and manic, a perfect villainous vampire and an inspiration to the vampires I want to show in Beast Inside.  No mercy, no falling in love, and bloodthirsty.

To see Severen in all his glory this is the best scene of the film.

16 May 2012

RTW - Memories

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic:
What book brings back a memory?

To sum up my childhood: Goosebumps.  Pure Goosebumps.  Ever since I eight years old and I snatched my cousin's copy of The Haunted Mask I was addicted.  R.L.Stine was my reading childhood.  For a young kid they were actually creepy, full of twists and cliffhanger endings that I would be gasping at.  So The Haunted Mask plays a big part in my love for reading horror.  It was the first Goosebumps book I read.  I was staying at my cousins' house while their parents were off on a trip.  My grandma and aunt were looking after them, I was bored but loved roaming about their huge house and caught sight of this book with a gruesome mask on the cover.  I nabbed it and started reading.  Unfortunately my cousin found me reading it and took it off me.  By then I'd read a few chapters and was completely in love with the story so my gran took me to the shops to get my own copy.  After a few years I had a pretty large collection of Goosebumps.   It was pure entertainment for me and got me writing in the first place. 

14 May 2012

The difference a draft makes....

To your confidence, that nervous break down you've been having over your potential as a writer, and to that little devil of an inner editor/Simon Cowell.

I've been working on draft two of Beast Inside for a few months now.  After zooming through November to get it done I've been taking this one slowly, making notes and breaking it all down chapter by chapter.

Writing the second draft is making me feel so much better.  It's still not perfect but compared to the first draft it's an improvement.  I've been editing it chapter by chapter, going through the first draft.  I highlight, scribble down notes in colourful gel pens, and cross out paragraphs and sentences that won't make the next round.  Then I write about two pages of notes, writing down what I want from this chapter.  Character introductions, setting up relationships and the setting around them etc.   

I think I'm getting the characters a lot better too although that's for a CP and betas to decide.  Knowing more about their personalities better and the way they interact with other characters.  Originally I wanted the ancester Gideon to be more animal-like.  Never talking and always referred to as it.  Total opposite in the second draft.  He talks.  Not much but he talks.  I think it works better for him.  I really wanted him and other vampires to be more like Barlow in the first Salem's Lot adaptation.  No talking.  Just a lot of growling, snarling and grunting.  I think I like the troll potential they have with a voice now.  A lot of teasing and tormenting.

For the third round of editing I'll really have to work on the atmosphere and tension.  It's still not right so that's sometime to focus on next time around.

Inner editor/Cowell is a bit happier now.

13 May 2012

ROW80 Check in 13/05/12

Last week I was hoping to reach the beginning of chapter five for Beast Inside.  Well, just a few more pages to go and I think that will be finished tonight.  When it comes to the next round of editing it's going to need a little more atmosphere and tension but for now I'm pleased with it and also pleased with how the plot has flowed so far.  Much, much better than the first draft.  It's been handy working chapter by chapter, making notes of what to edit on the first draft and then writing a lot of notes on what I want from this chapter.  That's been my best way to edit.

For my JuNo project Inside the Broom Closet, I've started the character notes.  First for my four main characters and have pages saved for the secondary ones.  I'll just keep working on the plans now and again throughout the month until it's time for June. 

Next week, I'm hoping to have the main characters all written down for ItBC and start chapter six of BI sometime this week for next Sunday.

News to Novels #16

Unmasked: The 'real-life superheroes' patrolling the nation's streets (but they've not thrown a punch in five years)
Clad in black leather and metal spikes, and hidden beneath haunting masks, these are the real-life superheroes daring to fight crime across the nation's streets.  While they might seem like characters from a comic book, the masked men prowl through the country's cities, including Boston, San Fransisco and Milwaukee, to save their fellow citizens.  After donning their masks, which resemble clowns, hawks, skulls or ninjas, they group together and patrol streets on foot throughout the night.

Now 'superheroes' step in to help protect prostitutes from the Craigslist killer
Self-styled superheroes have offered their help in fighting the serial killer thought to be behind the murders of over a dozen prostitutes in New York City.  The New York Initiative (NYI) - a group of vigilantes who model themselves on comic book superheroes - have posted an advert on classified ads website Craigslist offering 'rescue teams' for hookers whose clients' turn violent.

Meet 'Nyx': The 21-year-old 'Superhero' accountant who dons a black catsuit at night to patrol the streets and help the homeless
By day Irene Thomas says she is a 'boring' accountant who lives in a cramped New Jersey flat.  By night she puts on a black catsuit and mask with a red belt, gloves and boots, gets into her Honda Accord car and comes out the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel in Manhattan as ‘Nyx’.  The 21-year-old is just one member of the Real Life Superhero Project, a group of humans who aim to bring a helping hand to people everywhere and thwart crime on city streets.

Meet the not-so dynamic duo: Dark Spartan and Black Void patrol the streets of Torquay... but haven't found trouble in months.
The mild-mannered financial advisor and comic book shop worker who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome are the UK's latest unlikely superheroes.  Police report no dent in crime statistics since duo took to the streets.

11 May 2012

Random Fridays

To end the week of working and chores and writing I found these hilarious beauties on youtube for you.  Last week I went for a Star Wars theme and this week I was introduced to this legendary guy on Britain's Got Talent.  It was a sign telling me that the geeky Friday theme HAD to be Doctor Who. 

Without further ado... the man who shows that there is nothing more British than Doctor Who:

And this video was made by the DW team to bid farewell to David Tennant's Doctor and also Russell T Davies as the producer.  This is going out in style.

And in song.

10 May 2012

Villain Idol

Last week I praised my hero idol.  This week I'll go for the complete opposite and introduce you to my villain idol:

Gabriel/The Trickster.

Now he's not necessarily the villain in the typical sense.  He's not out to destroy or rule the world.  But he is wondering around playing pranks on people that results in their deaths and disappearances.  And he's always ready to mess around with the Winchesters.  He's a troll and takes revenge in his own creative and humorous ways. 

Originally the Archangel Gabriel, he fled Heaven because he was tired of seeing all the fighting in heaven between his brothers.  He assumed the identity of a trickster and walks around Earth playing pranks on people.  He refuses to help out and do what he can to try and stop the battle, hoping that he can force Sam and Dean into allowing Michael and Lucifer to use them as vessels for battle.  He doesn't seem to care at the time that if the brothers say yes the world could suffer.   

I love him as a villain because of his humour.  He always stays in the background working by himself and messing around with people in small yet threatening ways.  Just when Sam and Dean think they've stopped him he's lurking in the background chuckling away and skipping off into the sunset.  He swallows enough pride to not boast about their failure in their face because at the end of the day he's looking to survive and doesn't want them hunting him down.  Unless he just happens to come across them again and he can't resist playing tricks on them.  Take season 3 of Supernatural.  The brothers come into town to find a missing person and Gabriel gives Sam his own Groundhog Day experience as he witnesses Dean die a million and one times in bizarre and cartoon-like ways. 

He doesn't want to end the world and go crazy with armies and have an obsessive need to kill the ones who can stop him.  Villains like that always let their rage and ambitions get to their head and end up dead.  Gabriel's just out to have fun and bring people down a notch.  A villain who likes to teach people a lesson. 

Seriously, how can you not love a baddie who torments his victims by doing this to them?

In season 5 Gabriel sends Sam and Dean into TV land where they have to be part of different programmes.  In the video above Gabriel has moved them into a herpes commercial and poor Sam has to be the one who pretends he has it. 

Now that's a trolling villain. 

9 May 2012

RTW: Motivation and spider killers

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What's your favourite use for a book besides reading it?
I don't have any other uses for books except reading.  I probably couldn't use it for a doorstop or to hide money in it.  I'd worry about it getting damaged and worry that my money wouldn't be safe in it.  The only non-reading thing I do with books is sort of use them as motivational posters.  Whenever I write I either pick my favourite books by my favourite authors or books that are a similar genre to what I'm writing.  I prop them up on my desk or out in front of me if I'm writing somewhere else and keep them near me to look out.  Looking at my favourite books or similar genres helps me keep the excitement and determination of selling a book. 
It probably doesn't count but I did use a university textbook once to kill a huge spider.  I ended up with housemates who also had a terrible fear of them and it took all three of us to kill it.  One dropped a large pizza box on it, I dropped the textbook on top of the pizza box for extra weight and the other then jumped up and down on the battered box. 
We had to make sure it was dead.  That thing was a mutant and we couldn't let it get away alive. 
Join in on today's Road Trip Wednesday! What are your other uses for books?

8 May 2012

The road to... teaching???

Tuesday's prompt for Blog Me MAYbe suggests telling people something about yourself.  Well, we've recently had a short break from work at the mo.  The school was closed on Thursday for voting because it's used as the local polling station.  Friday was a training day so staff were in but the children weren't.  And then there was the May Day bank holiday.  So three working days off work plus Saturday and Sunday.  A nice little rest in the middle of a long term. 

So back to work I go now and we've just found out Ofsted are coming in tomorrow and Thursday to monitor us and see whether we're a good school or totally shite.  I'm standing there in front of the head teacher and both our eyes are wide and we have a cringe on our faces.  Ofsted? NOOOOOOOOOOOO! is what's going through both our heads at the moment and also what's going through the minds of every other teacher and teaching assistant in the school.  We're walking around whispering 'have you heard? Ofsted are coming!' We all look like we're about to be sick.

And I'm part of it.  I've been thinking and I've realised I'm truly part of this experience.  An experience I never actually thought I'd go through.  Because four years ago when I was finishing Sixth Form and getting ready to move away and start university I was picturing myself as an active, busy journalist.  I was dressed in smart suits, travelling, meeting new people, and working specifically for The Yorkshire Evening Post.  I liked to write and thought journalism would be a perfect addition to a writing career.  I wrote reviews for my university newspaper.  I was constantly burying my nose in newspapers and the Leeds Guide to get media savvy.

It never happened.  Being an English student the best placements in my second year went to actual journalism students.  I got landed at a local Yorkshire newspaper where my degree didn't actually give them the best impression of me.  They wouldn't let me do anything except follow people about and observe what they were doing while some of my friends who were journalism students were doing articles and photoshoots.  They were meeting people and interviewing them.  I know I was an English student but I knew I was perfectly capable of doing articles, even if they were small. 

My other placement allowed me to get into journalism mode.  I wrote reviews of shows I got free passes to and I also conducted my first ever interview with a professional dancer, Erin Boag.  I absolutely loved it but by the time I had finished that placement I couldn't stop thinking about what I saw in my first one.  People sitting on their arses all day, occasionally answering the phone, and stuck in front of the computer screen.  The hours were chaotic and sometimes journalists were just messing around, laughing at things they had found on youtube. 

I sat there and knew that sitting in an office most of the time wasn't my kind of thing.  I liked to be on my feet, moving around and staying busy all the time.  I stopped looking at postgraduate journalism courses and after graduation I had no idea what I could with my degree.  Luckily I remembered how much I had enjoyed my high school placement at a primary school and thought 'what the hell' got for a teaching assistant job.  I applied for a few who never got back in touch with me but one school invited me for an interview.  I've been working with them for seven months now and I'm hoping to be there again next year.

In those seven months I have never been so in love with a job before.  I'm working in reception with a challenging but hilarious class who are so creative and smart.  They have their evil moments but I love going in and talking with the class teacher what we'll be doing during the day.  Slowly I've come up with my own activities that the class teacher's fine with me doing and it's lovely to see the children get so into it and see what the outcomes of their work are.  It's the most tiring, demanding job ever but I absolutely adore it. 

Sixteen year old me wanted to be a journalist.  The twenty two year old me is getting ready to start applying for PGCEs that I want to start in September 2013, depending on whether I get accepted or not.  The twenty two year old me also wonders what the hell I was thinking about journalism and has found her dream job in teaching at primary school level. 

How different have your dreams turned out? Are you in the job you've always wanted to do? What about your characters? What are their dreams and do you think they'll get there or could life turn out differently?

7 May 2012

Next on the supernatural list...

Monday's prompt for Blog Me MAYbe involves talking about writing so with JuNo coming up I'd like to introduce you to the WiP I've started planning.  Like Beast Inside it's another project I started a few years ago but stopped.  I procrastinated, some characters weren't working, plot wasn't flowing right.  I put it to one side and just concentrated on the vamps. 

The working title's Inside the Broom Closet.  I started creating this WiP when I was sixteen.  For a few years before planning and writing this WiP I'd been reading tons of books on witchcraft and paganism and practiced a little myself.  But I've never been a religious person so I never committed to anything.  I just dabbled to see what it was like and get to know more about living like a Pagan.  Unfortunately me and my friends got caught reading a book on it at school and we were sent to counselling.  Our Head of Year was absolutely livid and threatened to expel us if we continued reading about it.  The counsellor made us rip up the books we had and I had to shred up my notes I'd made for the project.  They were absolutely furious with us. 

The idea evolved from a high school banning their pupils to a government banning it completely.  What if no-one got over their fear of witchcraft during the Burning Times? If it really did become an illegal religion and practice all the way to the 21st Century. Witches would be forced to hide who they are or they'll be burnt at the stake even if they haven't done anything.  What about people who want to take the law into their own hand?

It wouldn't just affect witches.  What about those from other religions or atheists who are completely indifferent? Forced to bide by the rules and turn their backs on witches, even when they could be their friend, parent, sibling, girlfriend or boyfriend etc? They would have to stand there, letting people get burned or they'll be killed as well. 

And here comes two teenagers who are getting a little fed up with all this crap.  There are three of them in the circle but it's really Hannah and Connor who are the most vocal.  They're desperate to rebel but could they actually do something about it? Well, things will get in the way and rebellion isn't the heroic, smart way of making a stand.  People die as a result and fear leads to betrayal. 

So far the planning has just been playlists and pinterest boards.  This week I'll start getting the character notes down properly and start the plotting.  So looking forward to June!

Is there a new WiP you're excited about starting? :)  

6 May 2012

ROW80 Check-in 5th May

A week's gone after signing up for ROW80.  On my of goals was to complete the next round of editing for Beast Inside.  I'm aiming for the end of May to complete the 2nd draft so I can concentrate on my JuNo project next month. 

So far I've finished chapter three and currently halfway into chapter four.  I'm quite close to the attack scene which finishes off the chapter so I think I'm quite close to the end there.  The aim is to reach chapter five by next Sunday.  Fingers crossed and procrastination ignored!

I'm also hoping to start the planning for my JuNo WiP.  Playlist is up and ready on my iTunes and I've got the old character profiles I made from when I first came up with the story plot. 

Roll on next Sunday!

5 May 2012

News to Novels #16

Teenagers taking a stand and growing up too fast.  This week's is all about normal, ordinary young girls going through real and terrifying issues.

We're proof that glossy magazines can give you anorexia: Here in an emotional encounter, LIZ JONES meets the girl campaigning to ban the airbrushed models she blames for their shared torment.
When I meet Rachael Johnston, it’s like looking in a mirror.  The same ability as me to lie, the same steely single-mindedness, the same self-doubt.  There’s the lofty disdain of health professionals and parents, the conviction that we are right and the rest of the world is wrong; a feeling that everyone else is slovenly and greedy.  Rachael and I share the wish to be perfect, as well as an addiction to Diet Coke.  We both have anorexia nervosa, the psychiatric illness which causes more fatalities than any other, and which is the most difficult disease from which to recover fully.  We also share an addiction to the only thing we have ever wanted to feed on, suckle at and drink in great big, thirsty gulps: the glossy world of fashion magazines, the sartorial equivalent of toxic waste.
Rachael, who is 20, hit the headlines last week when she and her mother, Lynne, set up an online petition calling for airbrushed photographs in glossy magazines to be clearly labelled as such.  Rachael’s decline into anorexia was made worse by her obsession with photographs of super-slim celebrities in magazines.  She traces the beginnings of her illness back to being 13, when she saw a picture of Victoria Beckham in a magazine.

Teenage girl prepares for marriage at just 14 on latest episode of My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Gypsy communities across America who appear on TLC's show My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding continue to shock the 'gorgas' - that is, anyone who is an outsider.  So news of 14-year-old Priscilla's imminent arranged marriage will be sure to raise a few eyebrows among fans of the TV show, especially considering that in her home state of Georgia, the legal age for marriage is 16.  Regardless of this fact, Priscilla's proud parents, Louann and Pat Baby, have big plans for their daughter who has been raised the traditional gypsy way.

How fast does the girl want to grow up? It's not entirely her fault if she's been brought up in a culture that's quite old-fashioned, especially when it comes to a women's place.  To stay at home being a mother and a wife is fine but at 14? Chances are she's going to be a young mother and there goes any chance of being young and having life experiences and adventure.  She's missed out on adolescence.  Would it be controversial to have a protagonist with this life and beliefs? Or would it be interesting to get into this kind of P.O.V? Where could her journey lead? Actual happiness or will she start to challenge things and question the life she's been brought up in as she gets older? Who's the groom in all this? Is he an older man who'll take advantage of her or he is just as young as she is?

Teenage mother and her newborn son who went missing from hospital have been found.
A teenage mother who went missing with her new-born baby has been found, police said. Bedfordshire Police launched an appeal for help to find 16-year-old Jasmine Woodbridge and her son Jayden yesterday after she left Luton and Dunstable Hospital without telling anyone. She gave birth at the hospital on April 30. But just one day later the teenager took her newborn and departed the hospital without telling anyone.
The reason why she disappeared is a mystery. What else could be going on in her life? Trouble? Social services? Dangerous ex or biological father? Maybe she was planning on dumping the child?

Can it EVER be socially acceptable to have hairy armpits? Woman who gave up shaving debates prickly subject on This Morning
Like it or not, there are few sights more arresting than a woman with a hairy armpit. The unfettered growth of female underarm and leg hair is considered one of the ultimate social taboos, dismissed as the kind of eccentric behaviour that should only adopted by hippies.  But while as a society we are used to removing all our body hair, one woman has decided to challenge the notion that women must be hair-free to be happy.  Graduate student Emer O'Toole from Dublin decided to stop shaving for good 18 months ago when she came to the conclusion that too much pressure is put upon women to conform to what she calls 'artificial gender norms'.
Weird article, yeah, but what if a young teenager decided to this? With all this articles about girls getting married off at 14 and suffering from anorexia because of the celebrities she's familiar with, what would happen to a girl so young who looks at this and thinks 'enough is enough.  I'm going to challenge pressurising crap like this.'  How would her peers react to her?

4 May 2012

Random Fridays

For Friday prompts Blog Me MAYbe suggests to share something funny.  A good laugh to end a week of working.  Well, since it's May 4th I would be denying my inner geek if I didn't go for the Star Wars references so without further ado I present to you The Cello Wars and Star Wars (John Williams is the Man):


3 May 2012

Hero Idol

Blog Me MAYbe continues and Thursday's encourages you to talk about someone else.  Invite someone for a guest post, talk about your favourite author, idol, someone important in your life etc.  I want to tell you about my hero idol.  A fictional character who has inspired me when creating characters for any horror and fantasy projects.

Xander Harris. 

The geeky, awkward teen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer who survived all seven series.  Well, one his eyes sadly didn't. 

From the first series to the last Xander was the comical buddy who was always made to feel like the loser.  Not just in high school with popularity and girls but also in the supernatural world where he just a powerless teenage boy.  As he stood in the background watching Buffy battle vampires and Willow become stronger as a witch Xander was always made to feel like he wasn't going to be the one to save people.  He was the one who needed saving.  You see this mainly in season 3 with The Zeppo.  That episode really shows how his friends view him.  They're not trying to be nasty or anything.  They just want to protect him.  But you can see it bugs him.  He doesn't want to be the human boy screaming and running around.  In the end while everyone else is off battling yet another apocalypse he's being chased by zombies who want to blow things up.  It's up to Xander to stop it from happening and he does.  Only no-one actually realises it and never does.  He keeps it to himself. 

In the first episode of season 1 he willingly follows Buffy to help.  His friends Willow and Jesse are taken by vampires and he's ready to follow her despite not knowing how to fight, especially how to fight vampires.  But once the threat is defeated he doesn't run off.  He stays with Willow and they both vow they want to stay and help Buffy. 

Lately I have been a tad fed up with special snowflake characters.  Main characters who have all these amazing powers all of a sudden and are destined to stop the end of the world and the Big Bad.  What I loved about Xander is despite being thrown into a world of demons, witchcraft and vampires he stayed fighting.  He did his best to protect his town even with his lack of fighting skills and supernatural abilities.  When Willow becomes the main villain in season 6 he's the one who is there to stop her and save the world.  Not Buffy.  In the last battle of season 7 he's there with one eye, fighting away and sticking by his friends to stop The Annual Sunnydale Apocalypse.  He slays, he protects, and he survives. 

I know when people criticised Bella Swan from Twilight Stephenie Meyer argued that her MC was going to be weak.  She was in a world filled with vampires where she would be weaker being human.  She commented not everyone could be Buffy.  Well, in a way she's right.  Not everyone is going to be Buffy.  All the female or male characters can't be kick ass supernatural protectors.  But characters can be a Xander.  The human who tries and still fights even if his skills are poor and he ends up unconscious.  He knew he probably didn't have a chance of surviving but he still stepped forward. 

And he's my hero idol.  The perfect example of an ordinary human who survived.  Xander's a character who inspires me so much and who I hope my geeky, ordinary characters can live up to.  This video I found on youtube sums his journey up completely.  So join me in spreading the Xander love! Let me know who your fictional hero is!

2 May 2012

RTW - YA Buddies

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What IRL people can you talk to about YA?

I've got quite a few friends who write in real life but not many are into YA or don't talk about it.  I usually talk about YA with my boyfriend who doesn't write YA but he'll sit and listen to my ramblings and vice versa.  He talks crime and sci-fi.  I talk teenagers and sometimes he'll read my recommendations.  I got him reading The Hunger Games which he enjoyed and even went to see the film with me. 
My friend Lizzie who I met on a fandom years ago is another person who happily listens to my ramblings.  We'll meet up for a coffee or a pub lunch now and again and just talk about our WiPs.  We'll go through ideas, talk about plans or issues we're having.  We'll spend an hour or so in Waterstones looking at YA fiction and pointing out ones that look interesting or give any recommendations. 
But that's it really.  The people I talk to most about YA are the people I blog with.  Who I share RTW with and participate in Absolute Write discussions with.  IRL I've usually been the only one who has stuck with YA, especially in university.  But it was actually quite cool having a lot of friends who write and all of us having and developing our own comfort zones.  Sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, YA, horror, crime, poetry etc.  All of us were different in our writing and I really didn't mind that. 
Do you talk to anyone in real life about YA? What about other genres? Can you talk horror or sci-fi with anyone IRL?

1 May 2012

I'm Robin and I Write Horror...

Blog Me MAYbe starts today and for the whole month I have a schedule to help me blog more and give me ideas.  I don't have to do every single day and Tuesday was a day I probably wasn't going to write much on.  The helpful topic for Tuesday is May I Tell You Something About Myself? Well, I've been struggling to find a topic; one that isn't just me listing facts or a random post about my personality or something.  So I'll try and merge this into writing. 

May I tell you how I came to write horror?

I've dabbled in other genres before.  I have notes on projects for contemporary, fantasy, supernatural, etc.  But my main genre has always been horror.  That's who I want to be as a writer.  I haven't always wanted to be a writer but I've always written.  That has never changed.  Since I was little I would write stories with my cousin.  My infamous one that my family never cease to remind me about involved three little dolls called Molly, Polly, and Dolly.

Oy. *Hangs head in shame* Molly, Polly, and Dolly.   Seriously, what was I thinking?

I remember when I was five there used to be a programme on television in the mornings.  It was called The Little Vampire and it was a dubbed German show.  I remember watching it and being fascinated with these young vampires.  Then when I was about nine or ten I got my hands on Goosebumps.  My older cousin was reading them at the time and I loved them immediately.  During those years of reading Goosebumps Molly, Polly, and Dolly slowly disappeared and I started writing Goosebumps-esque stories.  They were a mix between Stine's series and another series I loved reading called Spooksville.

Looking back Spooksville and Buffy the Vampire Slayer were the things that got me writing about close knit friends dealing with abnormal threats.  I liked the idea of a small group of friends sticking by each other and going through supernatural experiences. High School saw me practically glued to notebooks writing story after story about these young teenagers growing up together and dealing with supernatural threats.  They were terrible with OTT drama and cringe worthy relationship woes in the background.  The stories are gone and torn up but I never forgot about the characters.  They've cropped up in different projects.

Spooksville wouldn't scare a teenager but Buffy had some creepy moments.  Anyone remember The Gentleman in series four? And when I started getting into Supernatural I was pretty creeped out by some episodes.  I'd watch these scary things and think about how much I wanted to achieve this level of horror as well.  I wanted the close knit group of Buffy and the gang from Spooksville.  And the dark folklore use of Supernatural.  Over the years these have all become my main inspirations and led me to that love of writing horror.

And that's me as a writer.  A little bit twisted and ready to scar my characters.

I'm really a sweet, normal person in real life. :D