2014: A Year with Hindsight

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I know, I know. At this time of the year, everything seems to be about looking back, and you’re sick of it. Well, tough – I only get to do one roundup of this year and you missed out on the first 8 months of news. So here we go, with the things I got up to this year, highs and lows, on and in some cases off the page.

  • I got accepted to my first anthology. Lupus Animus represents the first time I’ve been published in print, and my story was accepted in February.
  • I wrote a playscript and submitted it to a competition. This was a first for me, and I wrote the entire 60+ minute play during March. Gathering the courage to submit it was also a big step for me, just as submitting my short story to Lupus Animus had been before it. My entry wasn’t longlisted, but that gives me a chance to improve it.
  • I won over a cat (mostly). The cat I now live with is a bit of a grouchy old man (and we love him for it) so he takes a while to warm up to people, but by the end of April he was tolerating me at least half of the time. As I write this in December, we often have cuddles.
  • I pulled a 36-hour all-nighter at university. I’m not sure when in the year this happened, but I know it was a bad idea. Sure, everything got hilarious at about 3am but on my way home I almost punched a nun for holding me up and delaying my colapse into bed (I didn’t. I’m a good girl).
  • I discovered the simple joy of sitting by a pond and feeding ducks. This was very convenient in June when deadlines started mounting up for my degree.
  • I moved house. I was expecting to be crashing on the floor until I could get hold of a mattress for myself (I’d been crashing on the floor in this house in the holidays all year) but arrived to find a bed that felt like sleeping on a cloud, waiting just for me. Bliss.
  • I shut down my webzine. I have immensely fond memories of Fandom Wanderers, which I founded and ran with a team of about 6 volunteer writers, but it was time for us all to move on to new things. I was sad to see it go, but after exactly two years, it was becoming a struggle to maintain and the whole team was swamped with ‘real life’ problems.
  • I lost my Nannie. My maternal grandmother passed away at the end of June after a long struggle with dementia. Obviously, this was devastating for all of us, but especially for my grandfather. They’d been married nearly 61 years.
  • I graduated from university. That’s right – as of July I’m a BSc, which is nice. I got an Upper Second Class Honours degree, and I’m pretty proud of that. It took a lot of work!
  • I became a published author. Also in July, Lupus Animus was published, and I got my name in print. Yippee!
  • I finished the first draft of my first novel. July was a really busy month, actually, because that was also when I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo to finish off The Perfect Garden: Buds of Spring. Since then, a lot of editing has hapened.
  • I did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. And donated to charity. That was in August, and I’m still cold. Brrrr!
  • I wrote two more short stories for another anthology. A Pride of Poppies is another charity one, this time for soldiers’/veterans’ charities yet to be decided, and is themed around LGBTQIA+ experiences of World War One. It’s due for release in May 2015, and again, my stories have been accepted.
  • I started this author blog. It’s pretty important for an author to have a website these days, and in September I decided to take the plunge. It’s been great, especially thanks to all you readers getting in touch and chatting to me! Writing can be lonely sometimes, and you’ve all helped to cure that, so thank you.
  • I attended my first major sporting event. This was the Invictus Games in September, and it was brilliant. I’m pretty sure Wheelchair Rugby is the best (and most violent) sport ever invented – and I got to see Prince Harry put in the sin bin, which is always fun.
  • I turned 24. There may come a time when I regret putting a number on my age, but there we go. That was in October.
  • I wrote a novella in a whole new genre. Cold Light is my first serious attempt at a horror story, and I think it came out alright. I wrote all 51112 words of it in November, for NaNoWriMo.
  • I wrote a screenplay in a whole new genre. Don We Now Our Gay Apparel took up the last week of November and most of December, and I felt pretty good once I’d finished it.
  • I got accepted to a collaborative world-building fantasy group. Basically, we all write stories in the same world, with a shared history, and it’s a lot of fun exploring what’s already established in a world you’re helping to create. This, of course, is Caladria, which I joined in December.
  • I also wrote other things. I got quite a lot of The Perfect Garden: Blooms of Summer written, for example, and continue to work on it. I’ve written a few short stories specifically for this blog, and some more as application pieces for various things.

Wow, this year’s been pretty good for writing, actually. And I’m sure I will at some point regret including the words ‘almost punched a nun’, but never mind. I hope I can achieve even more in 2015, and I’ll see you then!

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The Secret Project: Revealed

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Right, I’m sure you’re all dying to know what my Secret Project was over the last month or so. Well, alright, you’re probably not, but this is my blog and you have to indulge me a little bit, so I’m going to tell you a bit about it anyway. Without further ado, allow me to introduce…

Don We Now Our Gay Apparel

L-R: Joanne, Nicole, Helen and Diana. Character images created in the Sims 4.

Don We Now Our Gay Apparel (for which title I can’t take credit – my sister plucked it from the carol ‘Deck the Halls’ because I’m terrible at titles) came about because of a complaint from a dear friend. “I want to curl up and watch a Christmas movie about ladies who love ladies, but there’s nothing. Like, I want a Christmassy Imagine Me & You, or a queer Love Actually.” She made this offhand comment to my sister and went on her merry way, this being the third week of November. But once my NaNo novella was done, I got cracking.

I can’t make a film happen at the drop of a hat (though if anyone reading this can, I’m prepared to discuss rights!) so I went for the next best thing; a complete feature-length screenplay. I’m not sure if its recipient has entirely read it yet – though she has agreed I can blog about it – so I’m going to try to avoid spoilers, but here’s the basic idea.

Helen Anderson works in customer services for a large gym chain, which is holding a large pre-Christmas conference for all its staff. Also attending is Nicole Bridges, a personal trainer for the same gym chain, whose girlfriend Jo Starr happens to be providing the musical entertainment. Travelling with them is Diana Ruan, nominally Jo’s manager for this particular set of gigs – but managing Jo is more trouble than it seems. Especially when she starts volunteering for things on Diana’s behalf and trying to set her up with the nice woman who’s liasing with her about gigs…

I’m terrible at summaries (it’s something to work on, I know) but that’s your basic outline. I think it’s got a few laughs in there, along with tension and romance, and the speaking cast is almost entirely just those four women. I hope my friend enjoys it, and that it would make a good film if it ever got the chance. It’s also proof that I can write a feature film in a month, whatever its narrative failings.

Tomorrow, I’ll be rounding up my year in writing, looking back at my achievements on and off the page. I’ll see you then!

Slow and steady…

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Today I’ve written very little; perhaps 300 words, split between the second Perfect Garden and a couple of fanfictions I’ve been neglecting. I’m trying not to feel bad about that, though, because I’m still writing, even just a little bit at a time, and keeping the habit going is important. Every little bit of progress is still progress, so I’m just going to keep chipping away as much as I can.

The Caladria story still needs a little bit more information, so that’s probably going to have to wait until everybody’s done with the holidays and can explain a few things I’m still not sure of about this wonderful new world I’m writing in. In the meantime, I’ll continue to explore the map, branching out from the region I’m currently writing in (which I can’t help but think of as my home region at the moment, because it’s the first I’ve played with) to have a look at some far-off settlements and familiarise myself with more of the landscape. Besides, the map is very pretty and I’m really enjoying having a look round to discover the world of Caladria.

Anyway, that’s today’s update – see you tomorrow!

Unexpected progress…

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Ladies, gentlemen, and others… today I updated a fanfiction for the first time since August. I know, I’m surprised too, especially as I planned to write more for Caladria today. However, I realised I had to put in a research query about a vital point.so I couldn’t keep writing too much further.

Instead, I opened a handful of other projects and found myself writing a fanfic I hadn’t touched in a while. Apparently my block on that one wasn’t as strong as I thought, as I’ve written about a chapter and a half. I’ve done a bit on another of my pet fanfics, too. I hope I can keep updating a bit more regularly now, because we’re not getting any new canon so the fandom’s gone a bit quiet… and I miss getting feedback on my writing!

Anyway, that’s just me babbling on about my fanfic writing, and hopefully I’ll have more original work to report soon. Talk to you tomorrow!

I’m back!

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Well, after that very long, relaxing break, I’m now back in the writing saddle. I’ve started my first story for Caladria and I’m really enjoying it.

As well as double-checking that I was familiar with the markup for the publication system (I find it easier to make sure I’ve formatted everything by marking it up as I go), I ended up running 3 simultaneous research tabs comprising 8 articles and comparisons of 3 or 4 different religions, all to go towards a 53-word section at the beginning of my story. It’s a religious inscription, and I wanted to have a look at some real-life examples to ensure I’d got it right.

I also spent a fair bit of time familiarising myself with the geography of my story, which meant a lot of playing with the big map of Caladria and also led to me triumphantly shutting my computer down last night without posting this blog entry. So please assume this was written on Boxing Day!

I’ll be back with another update tonight, hopefully, unless I get caught up in all the excitement of family visiting. Talk to you then!

A winter story

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Hello, all!

So, having finished the Secret Project (a Christmas present for someone who hasn’t yet had the chance to read it through in full, so it’s remaining shrouded in mystery for now) I thought I’d do some Christmassy short stories. And then I realised that a) Christmas is not technically my winter festival and b) I was a bit Christmassed out after working on the Secret Project for a month solid. So, instead, have a less religious story (it’s very short, but I hope it’s sweet enough to make up for it). Continue reading