Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Big Birthday Bash

So me and my friend Styna got together for a joint birthday party a couple of weeks ago, which was fantastic. Loads of people that we hadn't seen in ages (and a
few that we see all the time) got together for a weekend of food,
games, drinking and a copious amount of giggling.

We kicked off with a phenomenal (if I do say so myself) lactose free fish pie (well, except for the cheese, but you only live once, eh?), which was ready just in time for Styna and Bones to arrive, served with a healthy amount of gossiping and sufficient wine to make pretty much anything funny. Honestly, though, we don't need that much help to make things funny. Then we swapped
our crafts (for the full Imbolc craft swap story, see my other blog Lazy Days), resulting in a lovely crocheted spring scarf from Styna and a fabulous teapot necklace from Bones (which matches my teapot earrings that she made). If you don't already know, Bones makes amazing bespoke jewellery, which lives at her Etsy shop, Autumnal Skies - what are you waiting for? Go check it out!

And then the giggling started, because we got out the wii games. Styna brought down Guitar Hero and Sports Resort, which were
excellent fun. We properly sucked at Guitar Hero, which was hilarious, and it brought out the fiend in Bones, who started telling the wii what for in no uncertain terms. It was a bit like hearing your primary school teacher swear - needless to say, Styna and I were rolling about for most of the night :) We also discovered that Bones shouldn't be allowed to ball yarn....

We spent much of Saturday playing Sports Resort with the boys, watching movies and crafting, before heading out to Leeds for a mild drinking session and an all-you-can-eat buffet. I nearly exploded :D

We headed out to Ilkley on Sunday, where we painted pottery and rummaged in the wool shop at 'Create!' before having a scrumptious afternoon tea at Bettys. We're quite fond of Bettys. :D

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend, and I can't wait for more adventures in the future!

(Images: My Mr, stealing Styna's hat and getting glomped; why Bones shouldn't be allowed to ball lace; Such concentration!; Pottery painting at Create!; Giggly death.)

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A New Adventure

Ok, so many of you are probably aware that I spend a good deal of my time writing fanfiction. In fact, over the last three years I have written close to four hundred thousand words of fanfiction, in three novel length stories.

I know it's nerdy, but I love it. I'm using it as a means of practicing writing, trying out different styles and getting feedback. It's been fabulous, and I've made some great friends :) I've also accrued a small army of proof readers, which is useful.

Last November I took part in NaNoWriMo, which - for those of you that don't know - is a month of 'literary abandon'. Basically, you and countless others around the world give writing a novel a try, all at the same time, and all with the same goal: get to 50,000 words by the end of the month. It's something that I've wanted to do for a long time, and was a brilliant experience, with everyone supporting one another across the world, picking each other up when they got down and egging everyone on. If you love writing, or think that you have a novel in you I'd definitely encourage you to give it a go :)

I've always known that I wanted to write (I rather foolishly chose archaeology, which is my other great love, as a back-up plan), and I used NaNoWriMo 2011 as my starting point. I planned my novel out in October, having finished up what was supposed to be a short fanfiction (apparently I don't 'do' short) earlier in the month. By the end of November I was at 60,000 words and having a whale of a time!

The novel is by no means finished - there's about another three quarters to go at least - but it confirmed what my fanfictioning had led me to suspect: I can actually write! And it doesn't entirely suck! *boogies* So here I am, still applying for work, but with much less conviction than before (and depressingly, with exactly the same level of success as before), and writing away to my heart's content. At some point this year (how exciting is that?) I will be taking the terrifying step of sending my novel to publishers and seeing how far I get.

You know, some of the time I'm really scared that what I'm doing is screwing up my life, but most of the time I feel like I'm exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to be doing - and I'm having more fun than I've ever had while working. So I've just sort of decided to go with it.

Anyway, in honour of this decision, I thought I might share a couple of excerpts of my work-in-progress, 'House of Vines'. Needless to say, all this text are belong to me, and if you steal it, I'll set untold demons on you. Or possibly just my mother. Your decision.



He could understand why, now that he held it in his shaking hands. He had never fully comprehended the lure, the power of the thing… now, with its wrappings coiling across his knees and the enticing planes of the Chalice in his grip… as he ran his fingers along its edges he fancied that he could hear it calling to him.
He shuddered, involuntarily.
Almost without meaning to he caressed the artefact, running his bitten fingertips over the strange, seductive designs adorning its surface. It wanted him.
He could feel it.
But he wouldn’t make that mistake, not where countless others had before. He had seen what had happened to them, through the myopic lens of history, glimpsed the smoking ruins of their lives…
He would not let it happen to him, to his family… or anyone else’s, he told himself, sternly.
Ignoring its delicious temptation, he wrapped it once again in its plain, linen, bindings, and folded it, almost lovingly, amongst the straw.
The infernal thing had caused so much pain, bred so much hatred… it could not be allowed to continue.
He remembered the night – such a long, bleak night – that he had tried to destroy it, and he had wept as the flames licked at the Chalice, the core of his – and so many others’ – desires. But no matter how the flames had leapt and crackled, no matter how the tinder smoked and smouldered, no matter how much fuel he had stoked around the thing, it would not burn.
To him, that had been a terrible, dreadful confirmation. If he hadn’t already enough proof… something so wicked that could not be touched by flame… it had to be the work of the Devil himself.
With the knowledge that he was safeguarding the fools of the future, he sealed the box and concealed it deep in the shadows. For a long moment, he gazed at the box.
Think, it said.
Think of what we could do, you and I… together…
He pressed his lips together in distaste, and touched the hollow in the wall. He waited until the grinding cacophony of stone on stone ceased, and inspected his work.
Satisfied that his hiding place betrayed no crack, no sign of itself, he turned and walked purposefully away.
He would not look back, he had sworn that to himself, and that promise, at least, he would keep.
No matter how it whispered to him.
Face pale under the waxing moon, and feeling curiously lighter now that his burden had been laid down, he closed the great oak doors with a resounding thunk.
Some things were better left buried.


Excerpt from chapter four:

Quietly, Christopher stole across the room and pulled out Cunningham’s Herbarium, letting it rest in his hand for a moment before allowing it to fall open at random. He glanced at the page. The brilliant blue of the Aconite flower stared back up at him. Closing the book, he checked the spine: it was in excellent condition, no cracks or creases that might make it open to the same page.
He held it away from him and let it fall open again: Aconite. Frowning, he repeated the action several times, before closing the book again.
The atmosphere in the shop was suddenly tense, as if several thousand books were holding their breath, waiting to see what he would do.
“Alright,” he said, softly, knowing that whatever he said would eventually reach even the highest pages. “You know what I am. I accept that… But I would appreciate it if you didn’t fly open to Wolfsbane every time I brush past you.” He smiled slightly as the paper equivalent of a snigger flowed around the room. “And in turn, I promise to keep you as well as I am able, and not sell you to people who intend to turn you into up-cycled, Bohemian furniture. Deal?”
There was an acute silence for a moment, then he felt the book in his hand wriggle a little; he let it open. This time it displayed a sprig of Geraniums, a flower associated with friendship.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he said, and returned to the desk, intending to read through the Herbal while he had the chance.
As he placed it on the desk the scent came back to him, strong and insistent.
He exhaled in annoyance.
Cunningham’s Herbarium flew open, pages turning themselves until they came to rest on a page covered in tendrils of ivy.
“Oh, shut up,” he grumbled.


Excerpt from chapter seven:

But he didn’t find out what she needed, because she gasped and pulled him around to the other side of the counter. The door had turned pitch black, and it was beginning to spread out across the walls. It was moving slowly, ponderously – like hot pitch, sticking to everything in its path. Christopher was strongly reminded of the air filters in the clean room at the Records Office, sucking all the life out of the room when the doors were shut; the darkness on the wall smelled like that: cold, empty, of nothingness. If oblivion had a smell, that would be it.

More frightened than he had been in a long time, Christopher took a step back, nearly trampling on Ivy, who was still unconsciously holding onto his arm in a mixture of surprise and horror.
In the back of his mind, Christopher heard the books start and rustle in panic; cases started rattling as the volumes tried to get as far away from the encroaching darkness as they could. They started to fall to the floor with dull thuds, trying to pile themselves up against the far wall. He felt Ivy turn around.
“My Gods,” breathed Ivy, pressed against his back. “They’re screaming…”
She meant the books, he knew, because although he could still hear the Barracloughs roaring themselves hoarse in the office, the noise coming from the thousands of terrified books was almost a physical force now, and still building...