Tuesday, 25 October 2011


I think I have one. But it's an odd one.

I'm addicted to Masterchef Australia.

Well, just food programmes in general.

It is a rather masochistic thing though, because I always think I'll never be good enough to cook to that level myself. My best mate calls it food porn, and I guess in a weird way it is.

I guess it's along the same lines as writing; to get better, you've got to read, and read a ridiculous amount. The same with cooking, which I love; I read cookbooks as though they were novels, and will lost entire nights of my life watching the Hairy Bikers and Masterchef Australia.

Like the crazy spanish dude Miguel who's just made paella. It's almost worth moving to Australia just to go to his restaurant.

I hate people who say food is just for fuel, and shouldn't be anything special. That's a daft attitude to have; fair enough eating is something we just have to do, but why not make it exciting while we're at it? I for one cannot wait to get my own kitchen, I'll be having dinner parties all the time.

My other blog is obstensibly a foodie blog, when I remember to update it, recording my experiments, mishaps and discoveries. Feel free to tell me if I'm doing anything wrong, or if you have ideas you'd like me to try. I am always open to suggestions.

On a different note, my last post was a tribute to a great racer and human being. The tragic accident that took Marco Simoncelli's life horribly involved his best mate, Valentino Rossi. This has to be one of the saddest, yet most beautiful things I have ever seen: http://www.valentinorossi.com/index-en.html

Sunday, 23 October 2011


Today MotoGP lost one of its brightest stars at age 24. He was involved in a horrific crash with his best mate Valentino Rossi and the Texas Tornado Colin Edwards. He was destined to be a champion, but sadly his time with us was cut short.

R.I.P. Marco Simoncelli, the world is a sadder place without you in it.

Friday, 21 October 2011

My Brain Doesn't Work On A Friday

None of what follows will likely make any sense, or relate to anything. Friday's are brain-dead days, especially when I've been working a double shift.

Though to do with work, it's payday this week coming. Means I can go buy all my pretty things from Lush. I love the fact that in this age of science there is still a company making products with the actual items they are meant to smell of, rather than the chemical equivalent. My ginger needs treated anyway, starting to look washed out. Like the rest of me.

There is a perfume called "The Smell of Weather Turning". I think I might be in love.

I feel I may need to make more of a return to hand-written work, some days I sit at the screen for ages and nothing happens, yet if I sit with a pen in my hand I can write all day long. Or at least until my hand seizes. Happens a lot more now I'm not in uni. Let it be a word of caution to you; keep writing by hand, even if you have a computer.

Someone told me there was a new type of Scrabble today. Why? Why can't Scrabble just be left alone? Apparently there's a new version of Connect4 as well. What is wrong with the world? Jeez.

That said, the new Monopoly with the cards instead of money is a good idea; less pieces to lose and no more of the banker cheating and sneaking money out of the box when everyone else is busy looking at other things.

Oh, wait, Friday, that means it's Qi night! If you are able to and don't watch this programme, there is something not quite right there. Fix it. Please.

I am now just rambling, fantastic. I should find something interesting to leave on.

Here is an awesome piece of art an awesome friend of mine did of my OCs, Eva and Jem. Go to http://neilak20.deviantart.com/ and give her some love, the girl is amazing. Night all.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

To Be Read List

New Day, New Blog. On a cheerier note that yesterday, let's talk books.

I am a bookworm. I should probably get a t-shirt made up saying as such, but then to look at me it's pretty obvious; I'm a nerd, and there's always a novel sticking out of my bag. A discussion with my bestie earlier brought us to mention our TBR lists, to be read lists, of which mine seems to get longer by the day. This is not helped by Amazon frequently showing me offers on really neat looking literature. So, I'm going to pass on the annoyingness, and try to add to other people's TBR lists, just because I'm in that sort of mood today.

I'm gonna start of by recommending people go read my favourite novel ever; Alexandre Dumas (Pere)'s "The Three Musketeers. Don't look at me like that, it really is my favourite book ever.

Not to be confused with the Three Mouseketeers. Disney has a lot to answer for.

I'm not entirely sure why I love this novel so much. It's written in rather archaic terms, but that's purely for its time. I think I love it because it never tries to be anything it's not, and it has some of the best characters I have come across in literature. Indeed, my own Eva is loosely based on my favourite of all; Baron du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds. Porthos for those of you who can't be bothered looking it up. It is a classic, and it has long been my favourite, so I do recommend you read it.

Now for something a little more modern.

Lord Sykes, as he is to be known, or Sam on occasion, is one of the most fun writers I've come across in a long while (@SamSykesSwears on Twitter, he is good fun to follow). His first novel, Tome of the Undergates, reads a lot like someone took a transcript of my mates and I trying and failing to play a tabletop game; bickering, name-calling, one big-ass fight, and lots to laugh at. And it has this accompanying map:

The characters are fun, and likeable in their own weird ways; they're the good kind of frustrating, the ones you want to shout at, but like too much to do so. The basic plot is an adventure fetch quest and, while interesting, takes a backseat to these characters, and for me at least, this works really well. Characterisation is Sam's strong point. The second book, Black Halo, picks up where TotU leaves off, though with a slightly more introverted lean, which is no less interesting. The third installment, Skyward Sword, is out in the near future (or the distant, depending what mood Amazon is in).

Another author I've fallen in love with lately is the lovely Mark Charan Newton (@MarkCN on the Twittersphere). His name and indeed books were brought to my attention when the awesome folks at Fantasy-faction.com announced they were going to be the read for the September Book Club. The description had me hooked, so I picked up all three (so far) of the series, The Legends of the Red Sun.

The story in the first novel, Nights of Villajamur, really throws you headlong into this mysterious and intriguing city, and it's not-so-charming-at-times inhabitants. I don't want to spoiler it too much, as this novel, plus its sequels, are well, well worth your time reading. Mark very cleverly makes you like certain characters, and want to hate others, all against a gorgeous backdrop of an empire facing an ice age, it's just...I can't think of words to describe how much I love this serious, go get it.

And last, but certainly by no means least, the ever-so-charming Penmonkey in Chief Chuck Wendig. His blog, Terribleminds (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/) is a must read if you have any interest at all about writing, or even if you don't, as it is funny, at times profane, but always incredibly informative. He's a sweet Penmonkey. He's also on Twitter, @ChuckWendig, well worth a follow.

He writes books too. Double Dead, about a vampire having to keep his human food supply alive during the zombie apocalypse, which looks absolutely amazing, is out next month. Cannot. Wait.

I recently bought and devoured his novella, "Shotgun Gravy" too. And I loved it; it's snappy, in your face, and totally what you could imagine teenagers doing. I highly recommend it. Go get it. Now. No procrastinating.

The Penmonkey series and "250 Things You Should Know About Writing" (which actually contains 275 things, either someone was trying to be cool or someone just can't count) are really good fun reads too. I have them on my Android Kindle and amuse myself by reading through parts of them on my breaks at the cleaning job. I think I accidentally learnt something too. Ta dude.

So yeah, those are my recommendations, for the moment at least. I might come back to this in a little while and add to the list, but first, I need to get cracking and read the heck out of the pile I have. Feel free to tell me off if any of these don't live up to your expectations. I might listen, but chances are I won't. :)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Getting Something Off My Chest

I'm going to start this with a disclaimer: I am not doing this to garner sympathy, or to get anyone upset on my behalf, I just feel this is something I need to talk about, to get it out of my head and let me move on from it. It has been over a year already. So, with that out of the way, let me tell you a story.

Last August I got back to Scotland after an awesome year in Japan, and to celebrate my return a friend insisted I go for a night out. Now, nightclubs have never been my thing, but I hadn't seen them all in a year, so I agreed to go.

Shouldn't have bothered; I had vowed not to drink too much, but I lost part of the night, so I guessed I must have.

Except a friend had my money in his pocket, because I didn't have a small purse to take with me, so I could only buy drinks when I got money from him, and he said I had only had a couple of rum and cokes. So of course, I was confused.

But then when I thought back to what I could remember of the night, there had been a guy bugging me to go dance with him for a long time. We're talking over an hour here. I obviously can't say yes, he definitely slipped me something, but I'm guessing that's what happened. I was unharmed though, so I thought nothing of it.

A few weeks later I moved to my uni accommodation for the year, which was my gran's house, though she was away on holiday for the first couple of weeks. And I was ill, feeling sleepy and being sick, which rarely happens with me. I tried to register with the doctor, but I needed a letter from my gran confirming I was living with her, so that would had to wait 'til she got back. There was a niggling in the back of my mind though, and it was hard to ignore.

My friend had mentioned that at one point in the night, I had said I had a headache, and wanted a glass of water. The people at the bar tried to charge me a silly amount for a glass of water, so I had said I was going to the nearby 24hr store, as it would be cheaper to buy a bottle of water, and the fresh air might help. He then said something that made that niggling all the louder; I had been missing for over half an hour, before I was found sitting on the steps of the club, babbling nonsense to the bouncers.

It was a horrible thought, but I had to be sure, and the test came back positive. The weird thing is, that's not the bit that made me angry. It was the fact that I then had to make the most difficult, selfish decision I've ever had to make. For the sake of my degree and my future career it had to be done, but it was heartbreaking.

It's a hard thing to type, or say, but I need to say it; I was raped,and as a consequence had to have an abortion. You have no idea how cathartic it feels to finally say/type that.

They say the experiences of our life are what make us, and yes, this got me down for a while, I even considered going back on anti-depressants, but I have amazing friends who got me through it without that. Now I don't even feel mad about it, I almost pity the person who felt they needed to do that to me. And if I do get sad about it, it's about the fact that I may have had a child now I could look forward to teaching about the incredible things that are in this world, but that only happens occasionally.

And now that I have put a massive downer on everything, I'm gonna leave, put on some awesome music and read a novel I am enjoying immensely at the moment. There are good things in the world.

Though I did have a question to ask, which has nothing to do with what I was talking about above; when I was in the shower earlier, I was looking in the mirror, as one does, and for whatever reason I was focusing on my eyes. I do like my eyes, even if one of them is squint, but I noticed something I thought was odd; my eyes are the colour of pale pea soup, which is charming I know, but they have rust coloured flecks through them. I was just wondering if anyone else has ever noticed this in their own eyes?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Soul Asylum; rough intro

Two posts in one day? I know, I must be ill. This is a rough intro to a solo project that's been rattling round my head in various forms for about five years. I think I've finally found a way I like it, but any comments would be appreciated. As I said, this is a very rough intro, but hopefully it'll give an idea of where this is going to go.

Charity looked up from her pile of notes with a sigh, which turned into a groan when she caught sight of the clock. She quickly sorted through the papers, pushing them into the appropriate folders, or what she at least reckoned were the appropriate folders. She pushed her chair back from the desk, stood up, and glared down at it; not a mark on the cushion. Then again, she had been floating three inches above it the entire time she had been sitting here.
Another glance at the clock took her out of her reverie, and she scooped up the folders, flicked off the lights, moved to the door and opened it, stepping out into…
“Oh for the love of!” She shook her foot to dislodge the goo that had newly attached itself, and retreated into her office, cursing the whole way. She dropped the folders back onto the desk, flicked the light back on, and grabbed the telecom. She pushed the button.
“Could a janitor please come to the ground floor? There’s…eurgh, there’s ectoplasm all over the corridor floor again. Thank you.”
She threw the device back onto the desk and moved to the door, leaning on the frame, arms folded as she waited. After a long moment a stooped figure shuffled into view, dragging a mop and bucket behind him.
“Mornin’, Miss Charity.”
She frowned in reply. “Do you know which of the cretin twins dragged this one by?”
“No idea, Miss Charity, I’ve been cleaning out the Hearing Rooms all morning.”
She sighed. “I only agreed to do this job because I thought I was doing some good, Alfie, and look where it’s gotten me…writing up endless notes and walking in…offal!”
He chuckled as he wrung out the mop and began to clean up. “Surely you must have known it wouldn’t be all sunshine and rainbows, pet. These are tortured souls you deal with.”
“I know, I just…well, I guess I thought it’d be a little more glamorous.”
He snorted at the age old conversation, and she winced at the sound of the mop dragging its way through the goo on the floor. “You do a good thing, that should be enough.”
She gave him a small smile. “You do know how to make me feel better, Alfie, ta.”
He doffed an imaginary cap towards her as she returned to her desk and scooped up her folders once more, flicking the light off as she left. “Anytime, Miss Charity. Have a nice day now.”
She laughed, and laid a hand on his shoulder as she passed. “And you.”
The sounds of his mopping followed her all the way along the corridor, and up the first flight of stairs, before it was overtaken by the shrieking. The shrieking blocked everything out at this end of the building, and it never failed to make her shudder. She carried on climbing, coming to the door of The Wing on the second floor. As always, her curiosity overtook her, and she felt compelled to look through the window, just as the yells and screams halted.
In the middle of the floor was a small, huddled figure, resting on its knees, trembling. The others scattered about the room approached, the braver ones getting near enough to prod the newcomer, most simply staring, as though hypnotised, at this new figure. And then, with a keenness that always made her jump, and usually drop whatever she was carrying as well as her glasses, the shrieks began anew, the newcomer all but forgotten as life returned to normal in the madhouse.
“Those poor buggers,” she muttered as she crouched down to retrieve the folders and her glasses. “Those are the one that are never getting out.” Straightening, she spared them one last pitying look before continuing up the stairs.
She found the Sister waiting for her when she gained the fifth floor, hands on hips, usual frown firmly in place. “And what time do you call this?”
“Apologies Sister, there was a problem with-“
“Ectoplasm, I heard. It is being cleaned up?”
“Yes, Alfie is doing it right now, Sister.”
“Good.” She nodded to the folders in the girl’s arms. “Are these the notes for today’s hearings?” A suspicious look. “You did bring the right ones this time?”
“Yes, Sister, I checked them myself, I just finished writing one of them-“
“Enough. Come, we’re late as it is.”
Charity stuck her tongue out at the back of the Sister’s head as she turned towards the Hearing Rooms, and then followed her along the corridor, trying and failing to supress another shudder. She hated Hearings; forced to relive the stories of these souls’ lives with them, nearly all of them gave her nightmares of some sort. “I guess that’s why it’s an asylum for tortured souls…”
“What did you say?”
“Nothing, Sister, sorry, talking to myself.”
The Sister eyed her for a moment, and then swept into a room. Charity rolled her eyes and followed her, taking her customary seat in the corner of the room, depositing her folders on the table next to the seat. She pulled her notebook from the bundle, her pen from her breast pocket, and quickly scribbled the date and time at the top of the page.
“Who’s case are we hearing first, Nurse?”
Charity quickly checked the names on the folders, pulling one from the middle of the pile, and opening it in her lap. “Verity De Fau, Sister.”
“Now you’re just making names up.”
“I’m not!” She remembered herself, and cleared her throat. “She’s been with us a while, Sister, so her name may seem a little outdated.”
“She came to us from the Bethlem Hospital, Sister. From Bedlam.”
“Ah, I see…” There was a moment’s pause. “Run the main details of her case by me before we get her in here please.”
Charity glared at the Sister, perched like an overlarge frog on her seat at the back of the room, leering over everything, and then looked down at her notes. The colour left her face as she scanned her handwriting. “Oh God, not this case again.”
She cleared her throat. “She was…she was raped, and as a result had a child out of wedlock. This, along with a few other incidents, had her thrown in Bedlam, where she lived the remainder of her life, Sister. She’s had three previous Hearings, and was not deemed fit to leave at any of them.”
“Well clearly child, she’s still here!”
“Yes, Sister.”
“Very well. Are we fit to proceed?”
Charity was quiet for a long moment, her inner voice screaming at her to get up and run from the room, to leave this place and this wretched job behind. She looked up.
“Yes, Sister. I’m ready.”

New Day, New way of belittling characters

I have discovered of late that I am very much a Marvel fangirl, in particular Iron Man. I only say this because he's just told Pepper he'll apologise when he's "not fending off a Hammeroid attack". I'm too immature not to laugh at that.

Also, on that note, you should probably be somewhere else than reading my immature ramblings. If you wish to do so, I suggest Chuck Wendig's blog, Terribleminds (today's post: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/10/18/25-questions-to-ask-as-you-write/) he says much more intelligent things than I do.

One of the questions Chuck mentions in there today is "what is the conflict?", and I feel it's a really important one to ask yourself when writing. Of course, it changes scene to scene as well as in the overall plot. There are also unlimited ways you can deal with the conflict, and I love the scope that gives the writer.

Take, for example, the scene in Mark and I's work when our 4 little travellers reach the camp of the Gods' avatars. Now, war is coming, and the avatars wish to use the travellers as a secret weapon, to get them an advantage before it starts. So, naturally, they send the big scary guy to greet them.

The three guys in the group are sensible, for the most part; Sael is petrified, so agrees to go with the scary dude, Shakti is too asleep, and Jem, well, he's seen a bit of the world, so figures somethings up. So that's them accounted for.

Now, you'll notice I said FOUR travellers. The fourth is an alcoholic, infamous pirate who is used to getting her own way, so of course, she fights. The scary dude (I should really call him Aeras, he has a name)'s solution; tie her up a tree for the night.

I do find as we are writing Mark and I spend a lot of time pouring over details, but also a great deal of time making ourselves laugh. Like when we wrote the scene I described above; I had tears in my eyes.

The only problem with this is, not that it resolves the conflict in a pretty daft way, but if it will reach readers the same way as it reaches us? Obvious we know these characters inside out, they're our creations and we've spent a lot of time with them, so we can see underlying motivations for their actions pretty easily. But outside readers?

So that's my question for today; is it possible to take characters you know inside out from having created them and make them just as accessible to the readers without outright telling them their motivations? I know I'm gonna have to think on it for a bit.