Archive for 2013

Words I Hate

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. I'm now back from uni and I spent the holiday with my family. It was great :v got some nice presents. Mostly clothes, 'cause I didn't know what I wanted (oops). My main present was a super-nice dress from my parents (I was in charge of my present getting, they gave me a budget and I online shopped the lot. No need to go into town, right? Just as I was about to order I saw it had been reduced from £60 to just £30! Pleased to the max. I probably should have got the size smaller than I chose to be safe, but it still fits fine.
I also got this gorgeously fluffy white faux fur snood, which I have become one with and wear all the time - even indoors. It's so fluffy, I might die.

Update on the story situation - my main proof reader has been utterly useless and hasn't even looked at the last three shorts (???) I know, right? Yes, my dad has work that pays for our house, but clearly this is more important! Tch.
He says he will get to it soon. If he doesn't, I'll threaten him some more.

So, the whole thing is delayed. Some more.
Disappointing.

However, my main project comes along in leaps and bounds :v The final plan is written, everything is worked out, and I'm hemming and hawing over beginning it. I will - eventually. ;__;

But, I thought I'd write (read: complain) about something else in this post today. Obviously, as an aspiring writer, I have a miniature love-affair with words. I love words. I love the words that have multiple different meanings, I love the colours words make on the page when you put them together. The English language is great! We have some beautiful words. Celestial, pelagic, xanthochroic, solar, feather, glimmer, machine, luminescence - all so soft and pretty.
However, it also follows that there are words I hate. Here are some, along with some fairly garbled reasons as to why.

Folk. I hate the word folk, or folks. I especially hate it when applied to a group of people. It makes me physically cringe when someone says it. It's just so ugly! Cannot stand it. This is one of the words I would never use in writing, never, not under any circumstance. Objectively there's no reason for me to hate this word, just like there's no logical reason that the smell of baked beans makes me want to be sick - I just do. The sad thing is it's not an offensive word or a word many people are bothered by, so I can't really demand that it be banned from human speech.
BUT IT BLOODY WELL SHOULD BE.

Next, warmth. I've always hated this word, right from when I was a kid. Once again, no particular reason, besides it has my least favourite letter right at the start. I've never liked 'w' - it's an ugly letter, with an ugly feel to it. Although, normally my dislike for words with 'w' in is confined to those that start with 'wi', so warmth is a strange one. I just try to avoid using these words unless I have to. The other letters in it aren't offensive to my by themselves, but I don't like the combination of rm or mth. It looks like someone's being gagged. Th on it's own is fine though. I guess I'm just a pedantic freak.
Plus, and this is more a personal thing, I don't connect 'warmth' with a nice kind of heat like lying on a beach in the Mediterranean. I think of it as more the uncomfortable kind of heat, like when you're stuck under a blanket and can't really move. It just makes my skin crawl.

I don't think this post will be doing much to convince you of my sanity, but I promise I'm not a lunatic. I just have an irrational hatred of certain words.

'Wi' words in general. 'With' is okay because the 'th' softens it. 'Wind' is okay depending on the words I use it with, perhaps its connotations spare it. Otherwise, I don't like them at all.

Words spelt the American way. I'm sorry, people of the USA! It might be the most logical way to spell things, but it's damn ugly. Colour versus color. Favourite versus favorite. The 'ou' way makes the word seem softer, smoother. 'o' is harsh, abrupt, and hurried. I guess you could compare it to cheap wine versus pricier wine on your palate - the more expensive wine is smoother and the taste lasts longer. Sorry!
Hahaha, I bet that's offended someone somewhere. Helpful hint : take things less seriously.
Pet peeve - when the British spellings are underlined as spelling errors. Nope, they might make less sense from a logical standpoint, but they look nicer in a paragraph. They leave a nicer taste when I write them, and give a sentence a more subtle, rounded colour and flavour.
'Ou' words are are awesome. And 's' is better than 'z'.

Whoever made this image, it's never been more appropriate.

There are probably more words I hate out there, but they don't spring to mind at this current time. This has been a long post anyway, so I'll sign off and bully my dad some more.



Blogging Hiatus (Over?)

Hallo everyone. :v
First of all, sorry for the (mostly) unexplained hiatus! As I mentioned in the last post, I am now at university (and typing this on my phone, so sorry for any errors.) I thought I'd be able to blog easily, but I am constantly busy here. So much work, a stupid number of lectures a week... I've hardly had time to finish my work due to hanging out with everyone.
The downside of this is, NO WRITING. None at all. Not even an edit. I didn't think it'd be this hard to balance everything OTL
So, you can expect the final chapter (and the complete collection) of City of the Damned some time in the Christmas holidays.

At this moment, I'm sitting in the most boring lecture of the week, and I've got approx five hours to go before I can eat any food, so I feel justified in not paying any attention. But besides working, uni is fantastic. In the month or so I've been here, I have...
•Met many new friends
•Broke my ipod. And phone.
•Begun a new martial art (kempo~)
•Visited most of the college bars
•Visited the worst nightclub in Europe and ironically (drunkenly?) enjoyed it
•Developed a taste for vodka tea... We ran out of mixer. Don't ask.

I had so many ideas for blogposts these last few weeks, and if I have time I'll try and write them up. So that this one isn't completely useless, I figure I'll post some of the photos I took of the Shard when I was in London. I always think photography is a great way to be inspired/develop ideas for writing, as you have the images to flick through and develop a feeling for a scene or character :v Do it!
The Shard was amazing, incidentally. If you get the chance, definitely climb it, and go all the way to the top (or what was the point? Don't be a chicken like my Uncle was, tchh.)


City of the Damned 7-9 Published!

♥‿♥ It's up! Download the next set of shorts here!
Thanks for all the support and downloads so far today, before I even posted! It'll be free for the next couple of days only. Please enjoy :>

I'm quite pleased with this set overall,  and I hope people like them. Good luck, little ebook!

I'll post a couple of more times before I go to uni, I imagine - I've got a couple of posts backed up that I want to do before I leave, and then I guess I can tell you guys about my new city and things :> Sorry for being a useless blogger/writer over the last couple of weeks.

City of the Damned 7-9; Almost Up!

Hello hello ♥‿♥
Not only is today a Breaking Bad marathon kind of day, I've also finished editing/formatting the next set of shorts! I've uploaded them to Amazon and am now just waiting on them to be published. Should happen tomorrow, and they'll be free for a couple of days around a day afterwards. Exciting! If you want to know the extent of the Government's plans for the city, be sure to download and have a read :>

I suppose this is also an apology, in a way - the start of uni's been coming up fast, and everything's gone a bit insane. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to not expect the final set of shorts for at least several more weeks. I've got a new city to settle in to (and not get lost in), Fresher's week to deal with (ew, for antisocial gits like me),  and hopefully I'll make some new friends. I will try to publish them before the end of my first term at uni, however. I'll have my dad email me any edits and I'll go through them again, but it will very much be in my spare time. I mistimed this a little bit :/ But I hope you can understand that my studies (which are about to clean me out financially for several years at least) should probably take priority over this.

But, it will definitely be out eventually! I've come too far to abandon it now, and I desperately want to start writing my novel! The plan and characters are all coming together, and it's going to be something infinitely more exciting than the shorts (although, I like to think these are pretty exciting too!) And I've decided, hopefully around Christmas or maybe sooner, to also release the short stories in a full set - exactly as they were intended to be read. Maybe you can gift someone for Christmas? ;>

Wait for me! I really hope the stories are worth it.

Modern versus Actual Art: A Comparison For Your Viewing Pleasure

I spent the day with my writing friend ArtemisTimms today, and alongside general nerdery and flapjacks we made what is, in my opinion, true beauty. We attempted to create characters from our books from Fimo clay, but after various trials and tribulations (including the fact that the Fimo was about seven years old and wouldn't really mould) we made something far more profound.

Click here to read the full review of this culturally important piece of art, courtesy of Arty :>

To be fair, my 'attempt' was even worse, and consisted of an uneven sphere of foil partially covered in clay. It won't be posted.

Once again, to be fair, I did art A-level at college and did rather well. What we have produced today, especially with the eloquent description and interpretation, was worthy of anything I actually submitted for my project (I used to splatter whole pages of sketchbooks with ink and call it a day. It worked, 'cause I got full marks.)

That is Actual Art, as I'm sure you can all agree. Here, I have some Modern Art, for your entertainment.
 
In all seriousness, this is the second drawing I did in the style of my previous picture as a character reference. Say hello to Sayka Lanner. 

Sketchy-Sketchy

Oi oi.  ♥‿♥
Not writing related, but I've been in a doodly mood in my spare time. I found this older sketch of the character Lilia Parell (lead character of the Light Age) and decided to finish it up. I probably could have painted the clothing and hair in a more detailed way, but I wanted to keep to a more simplistic style. I was thinking of doing more of my novel characters in this kind of style,  so I could have a little concept art for more of them than just Lilia. However, I'll probably focus on drawing the girls, since guys are boring to draw. Sorry! I like flowy hair and cute faces! (Hence I draw Lilia with long hair... even though she has extremely short hair for 75% of the series.)
(Also I am terrible at drawing men. How do you do it?)
I should maybe do the short story characters, too. Machaon, anyone?

You may also have noticed that this image appears in the new background for this blog. I got tired of the last one, and thought this was a good replacement.

The song lyrics are, of course, Marina and the Diamonds 'Oh No!'
For this character, they're kind of appropriate.
Drawn and coloured in SAI.

How To Get ISBNs - A Quick Guide

Hallo, everyone! I'm sorry for being a lazy blogger this month. I decided today to write another informational post, for anyone looking to publish an ebook themselves. I've already finished my formatting ebooks post - check it here!

This post isn't very long. But I found it a little confusing to know what to do when I needed ISBNs, so this should help save other people the trouble.
Note - ISBNs are quite expensive, you'll need around £120 for a block of 10. Get saving! I cleaned the house every week for a couple of months, as well as cleaned the car. However, it's good to have them.

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What is an ISBN?

 It is an international standard book number. It's a unique number for your publication that identifies it, and is used in marketing/selling. Your book essentially gets registered on a big old database as your book, so it's quite a useful thing to have. It also makes it feel a little more official!

As to how to get an ISBN - you have to go to your country/region's ISBN agency.  A google search will help you find yours easily. The one for the UK is Nielsen. Therefore, this is the one that I used.

You need to download the application form, print it out, complete it, scan it and then email it to their address they provide (Click on 'services for new publishers' and you'll get the information, as well as links to the form.) Alternatively you can post it to their address.

The service from this company was really great. I'd managed to make a little mistake in my form, and they immediately emailed me and we sorted it out. It does take a little while to come through, however, so be prepared!

Also, another thing to note. If you're self publishing, on the form where it asks for the publisher of the book, you can either put your own name or make up your own 'publishing company' name - I chose Baytree Publishing. I suppose this can be done for superficial reasons;  so people don't at first glance write your book off as vanity published, but it's not necessary. I did it because it felt official and proper to have a 'real' publishing name ♥‿♥. You will have to register one of the ISBNs to your book when you apply, and provide a sample title page and title page verso - the site has a clear explanation of this, you can essentially mock one up in Word or Open Office (for poor people like me :> )

You will get a paper booklet in the post with a list of your ISBNs, and space for you to assign the rest of them to your future publications. You will need to register these on their site at some point, but it doesn't seem to need to be done immediately.

So, it's not actually that hard! Even so, be sure to do it in plenty of time before you intend to publish your book.

I'm afraid I'm not sure how other countries are different to the UK, but I imagine they're pretty similar.

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As far as book-writing goes, the reason number three isn't published yet is that I'm still working on 8 - Original Sin. I felt as though I didn't characterise quite correctly in it, so I'm tweaking it, and I won't publish until I am 100% happy with it.

I am also really pleased with how 4-6 has gone - I've also received a really good review on Amazon.com for it! Five stars ;__; Thank you, reviewer! It was rather flattering. So far, I've only had five star reviews on my stories (touch-wood.) This pleases me.

Thank you for all your support, everyone :>

To everyone who downloaded my latest shorts collection, thank you! I really hope you enjoy them!
I'm sorry for not updating sooner, but I've been incredibly busy. Not only am I now working on the plan for my main project, I'm also getting ready to go to uni at the end of the month.

Scary.

Next set of shorts is out really soon. Here's the cover, close-to-full-size! You may have seen it already in preview-form, but I'm quite proud of this one! For the final cover, I'm going to try to link the design back to the cover for the first set - bring it all full-circle, like the shorts.


City of the Damned 4-6 - Published!

It's finally up! The second set of shorts in my collection is available for download HERE! ♥‿♥
Free for five days, starting today. Please be sure to download during this time! Otherwise Amazon will force you to pay :<

Please note, because I get a lot of questions about this, it is unfortunately kindle exclusive. However, if you don't happen to own a kindle or an android/iOS device upon which a kindle app may be installed, fear not! You can still download my book. You'll need to download the kindle app for your computer, which can be found HERE for free.

Any comments, criticisms and reviews are extremely welcome. I just hope people enjoy it. :>
The first set of shorts was, I felt, quite a good success - it peaked at 5 for the top 100 dystopias and 34 for the top 100 sci-fi stories, with downloads from all over the world. According to my dad's calculations, there are around two million books on Amazon, and at the time of writing this the first set is ranked #114,436 on paid downloads. Okay, so that's a horrifically huge number, and at first I was kind of disappointed - but then he said that this made it in about the top 6% of ebooks.
Not sure if that's true or not - it may have been some huge miscalculation - but it's kind of nice to think about.

Not so bad for my first book, right? I hope this book can reach the same heights, or even better.

Good luck, little ebook! I worked hard on you, and had a lot of fun writing you when I wasn't tearing my hair out over story five. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I liked writing it.

♥‿♥

Update + Misadventures in Spain

I've finally returned~! Spain was interesting, to say the least. Various shenanigans occurred. I've got about three blogposts to come about my misadventures this summer, but first - the second set of shorts is formatted and ready to upload to amazon and will
 be published (hopefully) within two days! After a slew of last-minute edits and changes, I'm quite proud of these. My favorite is definitely We've Lost Our Moral Compass, which seems weird considering up until I reworked it completely I despised it in every possible way. I'm really excited for everyone to read them!

The second set of shorts will be free for 5 days. I'll post and tell you when they're ready.

Other updates: I have a facebook page now, so you can get important updates etc. from there too if you like. :>
I am also now nineteen. I feel no different.

Another thing, you might note that the cover of my first ebook has changed ever-so-slightly. The reason for this is simple. I managed to choose what is, perhaps, the only spider image on the internet WITH ONLY SEVEN LEGS.
This was pointed out by a friend of my Dad's. Oops.
I thought about keeping the spider a bit 'special' on that cover for a joke, but decided against it in the end. It's fixed now. If it ever becomes famous and you've got the one with the seven-legged cover, well, count yourselves lucky ;v

And I suppose spiders brings me on to one of the many shenanigans that occurred in Spain. Might as well do the entire post now, photos and all!

We stayed in this really nice villa, small but super pretty, because we always prefer to self-cater rather than stay in an expensive hotel. Couple of photos for you!



The pool was easily the best thing about the villa. Being from England, hardly anyone has a need for an outside pool, and they're too expensive to maintain for the five days of summer we normally get. It was a huge novelty for us. Until the so-called Spider Episode. I'll explain.
One morning, I was sitting by the pool and I happened to see what I thought was a leaf at the bottom. It was pretty big, a bit spider-like, and I thought it was from one of the plants nearby. One of my kind, helpful family will retrieve that, I decided, and left it. But by the evening when we all went in the pool, it was still there. My little brother, who continually bangs on about being a 'real man', was told by my dad to swim down and get the 'spider' as 'a real man would do that, no trouble.'
'It's a leaf,' said Joseph, but still did not dive and get it.
While they argued about the prerequisites for manhood, the hero of this story decided that a real woman would succeed where a real man failed - using a bit of ingenuity. I got the net from the side, swam over and picked up what I thought was a leaf, intending to chuck it in Joe's face with a battle-cry of SPIDER! and have a laugh at his expense.
Alas, when I brought it to the surface, I found that it was the biggest spider that I had ever seen outside of a zoo.
The battle-cry turned into a scream for assistance very quickly.

I don't think I've mentioned on this blog yet, but I really don't like spiders. I'm not a full-blown arachnophobe - I don't mind the really teeny-tiny baby spiders. Those are kind of cute. I don't mind pictures of spiders, or looking at spiders from a safe distance when they are behind glass. But anything near me, anything bigger than a few millimetres across, anything where I can see the segments in the legs, I absolutely cannot stand. The legs really, really make me uncomfortable. And this particular spider, well! - you could see those awful shiny leg segments very clearly, if you get what I mean. I'll show you.

My ipod camera was too rubbish to get a decent picture (my phone had run out of charge.) But it was far too huge for any self-respecting spider to be. Bigger than half my palm, and when I googled it I found that it was one of these.

(Image credits: jacked from here - click if you want to learn more about these blighters.)
It's a funnel web spider, and they can be extremely poisonous. I had no idea they existed in Spain! I thought they were only around Australia, but a bit of google-fu told me that there are some in Europe too. And there was little old vaguely-arachnophobic me, picking it up with the net thinking it was only a leaf and I'd get one over on my brother!
It was thrown out of the pool with some enthusiasm, net and all, and then examined from a cowardly distance. In the morning it was eaten by red ants, and thus, the Spider Episode reached its conclusion.



Moving on, these are a couple more photos of the area we stayed in. Incredible mountains, all terraced, seemingly many years ago. We were on the Costa Blanca, and visited Valencia and even Benidorm for one day, because we're classy. Valencia was so pretty, really beautiful, with every building decorated. I think my dad fell in love with Spain that day - he kept waxing lyrical about how amazing everything was, how nice the paella was, how he even liked speaking the language. The only thing stopping him dropping everything and moving out there is, I think, the temperature - which was extortionate. 37 degrees most time we were there, and it was impossible to sleep at night.

We went to Benidorm to see the Mundomar sealife centre, and watch the dolphin show on my birthday. It was amazing! They even had a tiny baby dolphin, though it didn't perform through being too young. I was at first concerned about the welfare of the animals, but they seemed to have kind keepers and the ways their welfare was maintained were all explained for us. They constantly swam over to their trainers to be kissed and have hugs, and I feel as though if the dolphins were upset or unhappy, they are such intelligent creatures that the trainers couldn't get them to perform their tricks or be so close to them.

I'm really awful when I go to any kind of animal place. I always look out to see that the animals are kept well and are cared for properly, as it's really upsetting to think of any being badly treated. Luckily most places I've visited have been at a high standard for animal welfare.


My favourite animals from the sealife centre~

The other incident that happened while on holiday was, believe it or not, on the very first day. We needed to get food so stopped off at the supermarket, where this - and I'm not sorry - stunningly good-looking human being gives us kiwis to try for free. Thanks to some picky eating habits as a child, I'd never eaten kiwi before, but found that it was really nice (also, a hot Spanish guy was giving it to me, do you think I am cold and unfeeling?) So, I ate it.
Everything was fine until my face swelled up.
So, exhausted from travelling, still tired from Holland, I had a violent allergic reaction to kiwi fruits. In front of a devastatingly attractive young man. I know, you just can't purchase this level of coolness. I was born with it.
Hey, at least I know I will never need botox in the future. I can just eat a kiwi fruit before I leave the house.

Also, can I heartily recommend Barry M's waterproof black liquid liner? I foolishly put it on without realising we were going to a water park one day, and the whole time worried my face would be melting off. But after an awful lot of slides, two goes on a rather good wave machine, several adventures with fountains and swimming pools, it was still one hundred percent intact at the end of the day. Good, huh?



But one of the best things about Spain was definitely the beautiful flowers everywhere. They're all so bright, all pink and red, and mostly huge! You rarely see flowers that big here, and they were all over the place. So many different flowers that I'd never seen before - they were really beautiful! My favourites were the hibiscus plants by the pool - the photo with my hand shows exactly how big they were.


Too bad England is too rubbish to grow any, or I'd fill my garden with them.

That essentially concludes my shenanigans in Spain, and this post! I will post about Holland at some point, with photos, but I'm on edge for releasing the next set of shorts. If you've made it this far through my ramblings, may I suggest you check the downloads page? I've updated it with a new cover that I've developed for the third set of shorts, so you can see a preview of it in thumbnail form before I properly present it to you after this second release. :> Easter egg!



 I will leave you with a picture of my face. Yes, that is a bikini. No, you aren't seeing the rest of it. Society's not ready for that yet. 

I Have Returned~

Hallo! Just checking in after getting back from Holland with my grandparents. I've got a post (or maybe two) upcoming about that, but everything's chaotic because the actual family holiday begins at stupid-o'clock on Saturday and my garden has been destroyed by my parents, a hired digger and a skip.
Don't laugh.
I guess I didn't realise how tired I'd be! So, I'm postponing the release of the second set of shorts until after I get back (18th August) because I think it'd be better for me to be able to get online and be around for the release. I'm going to final-edit and take it with me, and if I'm unsatisfied after the week I'll do final-final edits ♥‿♥

As an apology/teaser, I knocked up a cover for the next release.


I'm quite pleased with it, personally - I've never done a full photomanipulation like this before, so didn't really know what to do. I re-textured and re-shaped the rocks by hand, which easily took the longest, and then painted new shadows over everything. It actually looks quite nice alongside the first cover, so I've decided to make the future covers in slightly different styles - so it's like getting a bit of art alongside the story!

COTD 4-6 includes Quantum Entanglement, where a neuroscientist has to make an impossible choice between right and wrong, We've Lost Our Moral Compass, where an orphan girl with no hope for the future turns to a life of crime, and Spidermusings - where the city's real Premier finally gets his own word in on matters.

Oh, and before I forget - thank you for over 200 downloads of COTD 1-3! As of now it's been downloaded in Britain, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, India, Brazil and even Japan!
(I was really surprised at some of these. Bonjour, Hallo, Ciao, Óla こんにちは,  नमस्ते! I hope my book doesn't depress you too much!)

Thank you to freerangestock.com for the images used in the creation of the cover. Also, the creators of GIMP. ♥‿♥

Be Nice To Learner Drivers: A Public Service Announcement

For once, a post not entirely about writing! First, a quick update - thank you so much to everyone for all the downloads and kind messages/reviews! The free promotion came to an end a few days ago (boo, Amazon) but during the five days my story was downloaded 159 times in total. For my first ebook, I reckon that's pretty swell. ;>

I'm off to Holland tomorrow morning for a week of sailing, lasting until Tuesday, so I'm having a bit of a break from writing and instead taking inspiration. However, the second installment of City of the Damned is ready for final-minute edits and converting to an ebook, so I will try to publish it pretty much as soon as I get back! I like this set better than the first for sure, so that's exciting.

But this post is not about writing, exactly. If you read my blog, you'll know I'm an eighteen year old living in the United States of Eurasia Kingdom. You may not, however, know that I am learning to drive.

I only started in November last year because I didn't feel I was mentally mature enough to be hurtling around our roads in my own death-box on wheels when the law first said I could (if you could have seen me when I was seventeen, you'd probably agree too.) However, since I've started driving, I have come to understand that this concern was needless.

APPROX. 80% OF PEOPLE ON OUR ROADS ARE COMPLETE AND UTTER MORONS.

Yes, this is now a scientific figure. You read it on the internet, it must be true.

But I digress. I took my theory test earlier in the year and passed easily. It was easy because the answer to every single question was a slightly different variation of 'don't be a twat to other people.' Don't tailgate them because that is dangerous and therefore illegal. Don't beep your horn late at night unnecessarily because you'll wake the kiddies. Don't drink and drive not because you might kill yourself, but because you might kill someone else. Preferably drive safely and don't kill yourself at all, but killing someone else through your personal stupidity is really inconsiderate. If you must drive stupidly, do it far away from anyone else and don't come crying to anyone when you die.

Oh, and don't be mean to learner drivers!!

I get it. I really, honestly do. Learners can be real nuisances. They can stop abruptly, stall at traffic lights, or take longer than usual to pull away. They often travel a little bit slower than others. I do, when the road is slippery or there are many tight corners or parked cars, because I don't want to die and my reactions are not as good as someone who has been driving for 20 years.
But this is no reason to be a dick to every learner driver you meet! For one thing, that driver might be very capable and do none of these things. For another, they might be on their test and you pulling something stupid or unexpected can cause them to fail through no fault of their own and cost them a lot of money in needing another test thanks to the really stupid examination system we have!! For ANOTHER, it makes you a raging arsehole. Guess what, peasant - you were a learner driver once too. Cool your jets.

This is a list of some of the idiocies other cars have subjected me to while learning to drive. Warning, it's at once both long and stupid.

♦ Screamed past me at 70/80mph on a national speed limit road (60) when I was already driving at the max, just because I'd actually adhered to the 30mph speed limit all the way through the last village and they GOTTA GO FAST.

♦ Driving towards me on a narrow country road, instead of steering towards the side of the road so we could both get by steered TOWARDS THE CENTRE OF THE ROAD and forced me onto a verge where I then stalled the car.

♦ When I was first starting out I stalled at some traffic lights. The car behind beeped repeatedly and drove right up close so I couldn't see anything out of my rear window... causing me to stall again in panic.

♦ Mercedes Benz vans tailgating me. 90% of the many times I've had some idiot tailgate me when I was conscientiously sticking to the speed limit it's been a Mercedes Benz van. Says a lot about the people who drive Mercedes Benz vans. Panther taxi cabs are almost as guilty. And people who drive BMWs and Audis.

♦ One Mercedes Benz van who decided that no, a learner car cannot possibly be allowed into the fast lane of the A14, and as soon as I pulled out to overtake a lorry aggressively tailgated me and WOULD NOT GO AWAY. I could understand if I'd been hogging the fast lane but I'd literally pulled out 20 seconds previously. Arsehole.

♦ Various idiots who, after travelling pretty slowly and me overtaking them and realising that I was a learner in a tiny red car, sped up on purpose to overtake me back, often smashing the speed-limit to hell and back in their attempts to appease their puffed up egos. Then, proceeded to go really slowly again. Pretty much all BMW drivers.

♦ BMW/Audi/Mercedes drivers that don't seem to know where their indicators are located.

♦ A huge lorry trying to turn into a minor road when it was my right of way as the traffic lights had let me go, temporarily stopped as it saw me but then, just as I started to go, STARTED MOVING AGAIN. I slammed on my brakes of course, and then the other car behind me nearly crashed into my back and beeped me. Not my fault!! Arsehole then drove past me when I parked making rude gestures. I made some back though, so it's fine.

♦ The cyclist who decided it would be hilarious to cycle down the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD and then not move out of the way when I approached, meaning extreme evasive action on my part was required when I'd only just started out.

This is not even a comprehensive list. These are just the incidents that I can think of off the top of my head now. I have also come to the conclusion that tractors should be banned from driving on the roads during rush hour, and that tourists to Cambridge should not be allowed to rent bikes under any circumstances. I used to get road rage badly on my bike - it's 1000 times worse in a car.

I don't get it. Would you people rather learner drivers sped along like you lot, going super fast when their reactions are still poor so they crash, potentially crashing into you? Do you not remember when you were a learner driver and stalled a lot? Do you not understand that harrassing or intimidating a learner driver makes them MORE LIKELY TO PANIC AND STALL AND CAUSE AN ACCIDENT?

I wonder how many of these people would pass a driving test if they took it now, especially having to deal with other arseholes like them. I also hope they all get arrested for speeding and dangerous driving.



Rant over, I guess. :> I'll see you guys after Holland! I've got a couple of things to post about, and the second installment of COTD will be out sometime after then. Exciting!

50 Downloads ♥‿♥

Aah! I just checked on amazon and my ebook has received 50 downloads after just two days of being up! I don't know what kind of numbers are good for a first ebook, but this seems like kind of a lot to me and so I'm really happy ♥‿♥

(It's still free for four more days, download HERE! Also, if you have no kindle or iphone/ipad/android with a kindle app, you can download a kindle reader to your computer free from here.)

Thank you so much to everyone who downloaded my book, and to everyone who will download it! It means a huge amount. I really hope you enjoy it, cause I had fun over the last year writing it. As for part two, it'll be out just as soon as I get the final edits done! That's Quantum Entanglement, We've Lost Our Moral Compass and Spidermusings. I personally think these stories are better than the first lot, but I did write them later on after I improved a lot. So, I'm starting to get excited for them too.

At the moment I'm actually working a little more on my big project, The Light Age, and I'm finalising the plans for that. Super-happy with it so far. But I guess now might be a good time to talk about why exactly I chose to do this kind of project over my gap year, rather than attempt to get published traditionally.

Getting a book of mine into actual book shops as a real, paper book is obviously my ultimate dream. But I did a lot of research about the publishing industry and it just seemed next to impossible to break into it. Publishers want you to have an agent, agents want you to have been published already... As an unknown, you really have such a little chance! But the main thing I didn't like is that as an author in the publishing industry you seem to get very little control over your book. They can edit it however they like, make you edit stuff out, make you add things in... And when I write, I guess I see it like painting. I'll try and explain.

I'm really picky with the words I choose and the sentence structures, because it's like choosing colours and tones and every subtle shade of a painting. Everything builds up into this whole piece, this whole scene and then eventually the whole story, and if someone were to chop it about too carelessly I feel as though it would lose the effects I've tried to achieve. Of course, everything needs editing - I edit my stuff relentlessly, and ask people all the time how I can improve! But throughout I am careful to keep the feeling for the story that I intended. I would also worry about my actual content and scenarios, not just the way I structure things but the things themselves. The publishing industry has been known to pull stuff like this too.

I guess a lot of my content can be seen as uncomfortable, unpleasant - my stories don't always have a happy ending. In fact, a lot of them have really quite horrible endings. And that's okay, because how many happy endings are there in real life? I'm not going to tack on some happy-happy-la-la-obnoxious ending on the end of a story about courage in the face of impossible adversity because it makes it hollow - it cheapens it. And besides - writing is art! You should write things that you want to write, that you feel are important - not what people have to want to hear. Of course, it'd be really nice if people did enjoy your work; I really, really hope that people like my stories. I actually teared when I turned on my computer and saw how many people downloaded it (even if it doesn't seem like much to most authors, it's a lot to me!)

Basically, I don't want someone else having creative control over my stuff. I also wanted to make my own cover, make sure my stories were presented exactly how I wanted to present them to people. They don't let you make your own cover in the publishing industry very often. Sometimes authors end up with a horrible one, or one that doesn't match their book - or even a downright offensive one. And they may not be able to change it.

That really worried me. So, I decided to go it alone. I guess now I have to deal with the label of 'vanity publishing', but I'll just have to hope that my work can stand for itself and people will find it worth something. I like to think my work is good enough to be read by people - and surely, it can't be any worse than certain books that actually were published! At least, I hope not. If my stuff is as terrible as certain things currently out there, I don't want people to read them! I'd be so embarrassed.

Mostly, I thought it'd be a bit of fun. A little experiment, something to do with my gap year. I'm on my own, but that's kind of fun. ♥‿♥ I can do what I like, it's an adventure that could have any kind of ending. Entrepreneurial! That's the word. I might not be a proper, legitimately published author like I always dreamed, but I can certainly be an entrepreneur until I get there. If that doesn't sound too pretentious, that is. And maybe, by the time I get there, authors and the art they create for people will be a little bit better respected by the publishing industry as a whole.

Once again, thank you for any downloads! Please enjoy.

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♡ Published My First Ebook! ♡

Yep, that's right! My FIRST EBOOK is available to download from Amazon right now! My friend Artemis Timms was the first to see that it had gone through review and been put up, and after a period of intensive stress where I couldn't find it on Amazon (apparently I am smart enough to write a book, but not smart enough to select 'kindle store' on search options) I saw it too. I instantly got that horrible feeling when you're really scared and pre-emptively embarassed in my stomach, but I was also grinning like an idiot so I guess I didn't feel that terrified.

It's the first three shorts in my collection, City of the Damned. I'm excited and nervous to have people read them! But it feels like my work all this year has paid off at last. However I'm new to this whole marketing thing, so I'll leave you with this nifty list of reasons why downloading my book would be a good thing to do.

Reasons Why You (Yes, You) Should Download My Ebook:
1) It is my first ebook and it'd be cool if people read it (even cooler if they enjoyed it!)
2) It is, from the 21st-25th of July, 100% free! (Damn you Amazon, for not letting it be always free)
3) It means my downloads page actually has a purpose.
4) I promise it's not completely awful. In fact, I like to think it's rather good.
5) It has a pretty cover that I made. I'm rather proud of the cover.
6) If you read it and tell me what you think about it, I'll be able to improve my writing and create better stories for people to enjoy ♡
7) It's the summer holidays, you might be the type of person that likes to read miserable things as-of-yet-undiscovered great new works of literature on your holiday :>
8) It has guns and robots and corrupt politicians and mysteries and deals with the metaphorical devil, and these things are fun to read about ♡
9) If you like it you can tell all your friends to download it too, and that totally isn't me pushing my own agenda upon you ;>
10) You might legitimately enjoy it. I hope you enjoy it! I had fun writing it, so I hope you have fun reading it too.



Publishing Update ♡

Just a quick one.
My book is now in the process of being uploaded to Amazon! After much stress and unnecessary, overwhelming rage and finally happiness as the evils of bureaucracy and online banking (the most counter-intuitive thing since forever) were defeated, I figured out the numbers I needed to type in the boxes and it's all moving along nicely!
It should be up on Amazon in between 12-48 hours. However, a wild problem appeared.
Amazon will not let you sell an ebook for free. 

I had to set the price as $0.99 (in proper money, 65p ;V - otherwise known as the lowest price I could set) but I've also enrolled my book into this thing called Kindle Direct Publishing Select, where every 90 days I can promote my book as free for 5 days. I'll try and figure it out so it can be promoted as free as soon as possible for everyone. I'm really sorry! I honestly intended this ebook to be 100% free. I'd downloaded free ebooks before - a collection of Sherlock stories, and Oliver Twist - but I suppose those are public domain works. Maybe it won't let you sell things for free that aren't public domain works. I don't know. It's all a bit pointlessly complex for me. :/

I mean, I guess the money would be nice - I've got uni fees to pay! But I really did want this to be free, so everyone could have an example of my work. I'm really, really sorry. Hopefully you guys can download it for free during the 5 days it will be available every 90 days - I'll be sure to point them out! I think I still get money if you download them then, hahaha.

Thanks for understanding.

Ebook: How To?

It's the long-awaited how-to-format-your-ebook post! First, I've got some explaining to do. I just received my ISBN numbers in the post; so my first set of shorts will be available on Amazon any day from now! Exciting 

So, you ask, as an aspiring author who's feeling entrepreneurial and adventurous enough to set out on their own - how do I make an ebook??
Or, more likely, I have tried to make an ebook and it looks horrible on whatever-ebook-reader-I-have, please help??

For reference, I have a kindle paperwhite. My ebook looks fine here, and from the looks of it on amazon's own emulators, it will be fine on other models too. I don't know how it will look on other devices.

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The first thing you must do is formatting. It's boring to the max, but suck it up. You already (hopefully) went over your story a ton of times, so what's one more? One thing that I have learned from my gap year is that writers spend a hell of a lot of time going over their work to make sure it's perfect.
Here is what you have to do, if you want to do this how I did. Tried and tested, works a charm!

First, your story must be in a Microsoft Word .doc file format. If you have saved it in any other format - .txt, .odf - change it.
Then, open in Microsoft Word.

Remember, an ebook is different to a regular book. It has no pagebreaks, not even for new chapters. Because every ebook reader model displays things differently, even if you think a pagebreak looks good on your reader it won't be the same on others. You should get doing pagebreaks out of your head right away - it should all be one document, single spaced, though you can get away with a double linebreak between chapters or titles/subheadings. No more than that. Really. So, if you've been merrily starting each chapter on a different page to the one before, go and take that out. Yes, I had to do this.

The first thing you should do, perhaps, is write the title section. You know how a book always has a little bit at the front that contains the copyright and makes sure everyone knows you didn't make fun of real people with your book? You get to write that!
This is mine. You can write something similar, if you like. It's also the only part of my book that is centered. Don't bother centering chapter titles, it doesn't look so great on the ebook reader.


Click on the picture to see a larger version. ♡ I also added a table of contents.

Now you've got the important part sorted, it's time to get onto the actual formatting. Note, my subheadings here are already formatted. Before you format, all your document should look like regular text.
To help you, if you have the latest edition of Word, you should click this button here:

You'll see a variety of symbols pop up on your page. It'll look somewhat like this:

¶ means a paragraph, or single linebreak. You may also see a character that looks like an arrow pointing to the right too, similar to this: →. This shows an indent.  You want to remove all of these. Every single one. Yes, it looks nice in the word document to have indents for paragraphs, but it looks ugly on the ebook reader because the linebreaks themselves are slightly indented on there - just like a real book. This part's the boring bit, and it may sound weird. But it needs to be done. The final thing that needs to be done is formatting your headings, and/or subheadings. You don't just change the sizes for these - you have to change the styling.

This is done by paying attention to the styles bar in word.

You can edit these styles as much as you like by right-clicking and choosing modify. But the trick is, to be consistent! I only used three styles when making my ebook. The first was only for the title. Then, I had another for chapter titles/other headers. The third one was for the quotes that I have beneath each chapter title.

Why can't I just change the font size? I hear you ask. Because without styles, ebooks aren't happy with double spacing. I tried SO HARD to get double spaces below my chapter titles, my quotes, just to separate them from the main block of text a little. It wouldn't work. Styling was the only way to beat this. So, on the modify panel, I made my header styles have extra space above and below. The circled buttons edit this space.



Once you have accomplished all this, save your document. You're mostly done!

The next thing you will need is to download mobipocket, to get your ebook converted to the .prc file Amazon requires.

You can download mobipocket from here. ♡ Follow the installation instructions, and it's fairly self explanatory from there. Choose 'Import from Existing File' and then 'MS Word Document'. You can then upload your cover, add author and publishing information, and once you're satisfied you should click 'Build'. The resulting .prc file can then be dragged straight into your kindle's 'documents' folder, and is ready to read!

Congratulations - you're done! ♥‿♥ Hopefully without stress like me.

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My dad is currently destroying our house in order to fix it, and the noise is drilling through my head wtf. Cannot hear myself think any more. I'll work on a post about actually publishing an ebook next, because now you've got one you probably want to publish it. I also want to write about my gap year itself - why I chose the self-publishing and ebook routes, and why I think it's been worth it. Screw £9000 uni fees, at least for one year.

But, seeing as my first ebook is being published imminently, expect one about that first! I'll now have to think of creative ways to get people to download, whoops. I am terrible at this.

Rework Complete ♡

✎ It took longer than I anticipated, but the rewrite of short story five: We've Lost Our Moral Compass is done! ♥‿♥ I'm really proud of it; the concept as a whole is a million times better, and I guess I really got into the story as a whole because it now ties with nine: Viral Heart for the longest. Assorted thieves, fences and other criminals, oh my! I've also edited a couple of others along the way, mostly to replace the old concept entirely but also to add a couple new tidbits to the storyline, a handful of new connections. I think I can finally say that I'm proud of the story overall. ♬♪

I've also gone back and characterised the twelve ministers some more. Without giving too much away, these are some of the people involved in the Government of the city. This was because the reworked story five allowed them to get a scene of decent length, and I got to explore the character of the Minister of Media. Out of all the Ministers he's arguably the most powerful, and I personally feel he's also the most creepy. He's handsome, he's charming, he's always smiling, and he's ever-so-friendly and sincere. His actions in the fifth, I hope you'll agree if you read it, will dispell this masquerade rather quickly.
The other Ministers I've gone into detail with are Defence and Science. Defence is cold, stern, always serious, and the Minister of Media does have a bit of a laugh at his expense every now and then. Science, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish. He doesn't refer to himself in the first person, choosing instead to talk about things in terms of 'This Minister'. Only once will he break this habit. Essentially, the Minister of Science does not exist as in individual entity with his own thoughts and concerns. His only goal is that of his Premier. He was also extremely frustrating to write.

The final Minister that gets properly introduced is actually the Minister of Justice, and unlike Media, Defence and Science he does nothing to drive the plot. For the most part, he is silent. Ancient and decrepit, he looks on at events through bleary, dishwater-eyes, and the only time he speaks is to condemn. ♡ I wish I'd been able to go into the other Ministers more and develop them, but there simply wasn't the time or the space - I'm proud of those I have, though. They make rather good nasties, I like to think.

My ISBNs have also been ordered and paid for, as soon as they get here my first ebook will be up for free! That's the first three shorts. I will have to think up ways to trick people I know into downloading it ;v Hopefully it will be within the week! It's really exciting now OTL.

Ebook formatting post is next, hopefully tomorrow if I can get it written up in time. ♡

Concept Art, Concept Art

(Still not the ebook formatting post. Whoops.)

I was just fairly happy with this doodle. It's completely done in Paint Tool SAI, the first of my scribblings to be done in this way, and I'm pleased with the results!
This is a character from my series, the Light Age, and it's the first concept art I have of her. She's one of the less pleasant characters, but just about my favourite regardless. ♥‿♥ In the early books she appears as a straight-up antagonist, but in the later books the lines are going to blur somewhat. She's got her own agenda, wants power and recognition as well as revenge, and isn't fond of people trying to be heroes and getting in her way.
Ever so much fun to write about. ;v

 The reason that she is a floating head and shoulders is sheer laziness, but I'm pleased with her nonetheless! I'll be using SAI for future pieces.

In Support of Edward Snowden

Publishing this one now because I'm profoundly off-pissed by pretty much everything.

 Unless you've been living under a bit of a rock, you'll know who Edward Snowden is and what he's done, so I won't rehash it in great detail. He effectively blew the whistle on the NSA and the GCHQ, who have been merrily spying on everyone's online activity. NSA is American, and GCHQ is British.
That's my country, yo.

What these charming institutions have been doing is, of course, mass-monitoring global transmissions. The NSA were using the Prism scheme to spy on people - in Hong Kong, China, their own country, and who knows where else. The GCHQ has been accused of being involved with Prism too, and circumventing UK law to spy on people including the Germans, and God knows who else. If America wasn't spying on us, GCHQ probably was.

The thing that makes me laugh is that the US expected Hong Kong to hand Snowden back to them, after its spying activities on the people of Hong Kong were revealed.
You're not used to having people say no to you, are you, America? If I'd found out someone was spying me, no way would I ever hand the person who warned me about it back to them! Now America is accusing Hong Kong of supporting a fugitive when actually, it acted in accordance to international law. What do you mean, America isn't the world?

And I'm so, so angry that Britain's been getting its fingers in the pie too. Why do we always do this? Our country is a goddamn lapdog. I think this just about sums up our Government's relationship with the US.

USA: IRAQ HAS OIL. WANT TO GO TO WAR?
UK: Oh, such fun! Jolly good, tally-ho! America's doing it so we definitely ought to! Leeroy Jenkins!!!
USA: HAND OVER THIS UK CITIZEN TO US IMMEDIATELY.
UK: Sure, have this one on us. It's not like the supposed crime they've committed isn't a crime in the UK, and this person has never set foot in the US before! Take the plebian away!
USA: WE'VE JUST DEVELOPED A SPY SYSTEM THAT MEANS WE CAN SPY ON ANYONE EVER!
UK: Oh, do please let us join in! It's not like this is 100% unethical and will backfire badly as soon as anyone finds out! We're the good guys, everyone! Boo, hiss, China and Russia and everyone else the US doesn't like and accuses of doing exactly the same thing!
(To be fair, they probably do.)

But that's why I cannot stand this country. We're wet blankets. We're pansies. When we aren't happily going along with what America says, we're whinging about how stupid their Government and foreign policy is. Hate to break it to you, fellow Brits, but WE DO EXACTLY THE SAME AS THEM. We are just as bad, and I actually think we're worse because from the amount of people complaining about 'stupid America' we clearly think we know better, but we don't do better.

We even have drones now, which is something I staunchly stand against. I was disgusted by the Obama administration continuing to use them, and I'm even more disgusted that the UK has decided to start using them on Pakistan too.
And yet the poor old Pakistanis are the terrorists. Want to tell that to the innocent civilians and their children who keep getting blown sky-high by drone strikes that they cannot control, predict and don't have the chance to escape, just because they happen to live sort-of-near someone who's cross with the USA? Oh, I forgot, they're collateral damage. They don't count because they aren't American.
It disgusts me that our country adopts the same attitude.

Then, we complain about a rise in insurgency in these countries we attack. I don't know about you, but if someone had drones primed to kill hovering above my country and kept blowing up hundreds of random civilians 'by mistake', just to get to a handful of meanies, I'd start feeling pretty sympathetic to those meanies. I'd probably start feeling pretty fanatical about things myself.

But, I digress. Edward Snowden. Prism.

NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO INVADE INNOCENT PEOPLE'S PRIVACY.  America & Britain, you don't get the right to spy on the populace of other countries while complaining that they might be spying on you. You also do not get to spy on the activities of your OWN countries' populace. Big brother is watching us, and we were stupid enough to vote him in. George Orwell saw the future, and he was basically right. Every day I find new articles about truly horrible things that are being created - adverts for in cities that lock onto you and follow you and track where you're going. A TV box with a camera in it that watches what you are doing (the official spiel is that this is so that ads can be tailored to what you're doing - say, a romance ad if you're cuddling with someone, toy ads if children are playing, but anyone with a brain can see how bad an idea that is and how easily it could go wrong.)
 Even the good old XBoner was going to have a camera in the kinect that couldn't be turned off or disconnected from the internet - because if you didn't connect to the internet once per 24 hours you could no longer play games. I think that's been changed now though, which is good. Thought it was some horrific joke.

Do none of these people read? Do they not read anything at all?

1984 was NOT an instruction manual. 
Run, Snowden, run.

I personally feel as though there's only one thing to do to make them stop watching us. It's been rumoured for a long while that governments filter through everyone's emails, search for keywords such as bombs and terrorists and allahu akbar and when they find them, put these people on a nifty little to-watch list so they can see if they're terrorists. This practice is definitely not islamophobic, what are you saying??
They want to watch us, put us on lists? Fine. I say that everyone in this country - no, everyone in the world - should send a bunch of emails to themselves and everyone they know containing nothing but buzzwords in them - guns ak-47 attack terrorists fanaticism al-qaeda how2makebombs hi David Cameron! They wanted to spy on us, under the guise of protecting us? They can have their cake, and eat it too. Good luck sorting through the rubbish to get to the good stuff. That'll learn ya.

Oh, and for the record, Snowden's not a traitor. He's a hero, and he'll be remembered as standing on the right side of history. I said this blog would get political. 

Reckon they watch blogger, too? Am I on their list? Hi in advance, NSA. Pinky-promise that I'm not a terrorist. 
This is why I write the genre I do. Because it's true.

Ebook Cover: Take Two

Okay, so! I've successfully got my head around the formatting of my ebook, and I'm really proud of what I have so far! I'm actually going to do one last-minute edit of the stories before I post it, but right now I'm waiting on the ISBN number to come through. It's all very exciting! I've got it working on my Kindle, and it all looked great -
Except for the cover.
Puddlenuts.

I already posted the old cover I made for the ebook. Unfortunately, I hadn't really considered how it would look on the Kindle, and it was just too dark. The text was too thin and didn't show up, and it was so dark that the designs couldn't be seen. So, it was back to the drawing board! Eurgh.

I worked on it for some time, and then came up with this.

The resolution of it isn't that great uploaded to this blog, it's a little blurry, but in real life it's huge, and all the lines are crisp. I swear! And it now actually looks rather good on a Kindle!

I made this ebook cover in GIMP, and it took me about an hour of messing around. The background is a soft grey, and a free paper texture from bashcorpo on deviantart gives it a bit more life at full-res especially. I pasted this in as another layer over the base, and turned the opacity down extremely low.

The fonts are the same as last time; Infinity and Jura. If you look at most books, you'll find that they have two fonts on them from different font families, and that's what I've tried to replicate. The cogs are free brushes, obtained from coolestbrushes. The spider image is from a photo on freerangestock, by Danilo, and I cut it out from the background and turned it into a silhouette. Everything I've used is free for personal and commercial use, and has been really useful to me. You always gotta check the terms of use e____e It's quite a chore to find good resources for free. Either of these sites, I can recommend.

Let this be a lesson to all wannabe-ebook-cover designers! If it doesn't display well on an ebook reader, you haven't done your job.

Next post will be an actual tutorial of how to format an ebook the way I did, because it was so profoundly stupid and took so long and turned me into this:

Seriously, there was no decent guide as to how to do it with a word document anywhere on the internet! My heyday as a master of google-fu seems to be over. It will be explained.


In other (hopefully more interesting) news; the rewrite of number 5 is going well. I'm actually quite enjoying it now! The Ministers get to be their creepy, diabolical selves in it, and it's all fabulously disturbing. Here's to a life of crime for Carina! And hopefully a less boring post next time.

On an unrelated note my little brother just set off the fire alarm frying sausages. He offered to make me some too, and put them in some toast. The toast is sliced bigger than a doorstop and the house is full of smoke, but it's the thought that counts. The last time he tried to make food for us both he brought me back two bowls - one of plain pasta, and the other of plain rice (?). This is definitely an improvement.




Houses of Parliament

Hello! It's been a while, but I've been rather busier than expected. All my friends are back from university now, so we've gone hard - and not always gone home -  for the last few weeks. As I write this, I'm trying to format the first set of shorts into an ebook, but it's taking a while. And two days ago, I got home from my work experience at the Houses of Parliament, in London!
It was so cool.

I stayed with my uncle, who has a flat in the city, and that was really fun too. Ate Vietnamese cuisine for the first time with him, which I can 100% recommend to anyone. It's a little like Chinese food, but much spicier, and I actually prefer it! Unfortunately I have no photos of the food because I ate it before I could remember to take any. Also it turns out that I am absolutely abysmal at using chopsticks.
But, I digress.

I had to catch the bus to the Houses of Parliament each day (and get it back!) and as someone without a sense of direction to speak of who is used to a small city only, this was pretty daunting. However, my bus route took me past most of the big sights (St Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square etc) so it was still pretty cool. I had to keep asking for directions, and you can say what you like about Londoners being grumpy - everyone who I asked was really kind, especially two policemen who offered to actually show me the way themselves.
I'm such a tourist.

Maybe I'd get better at things if I actually lived in London - who knows? But I sort of want to live there now, at some point in the future. Also, London buses get the weirdest people on them. First day I was going back to my uncle's, I was treated to an hour-long, full-on sing-and-clap-along-to-Jesus-songs session, from a man who I suspect was profoundly drunk at this point. Unfortunately I could hear him through my iPod at max volume; and when Nine Inch Nails is being drowned out by something else there's a problem.

The first thing that I did was go on a tour of the houses, which was great - but unfortunately, you aren't allowed to photograph anything. The House of Commons is absolutely tiny, way smaller than you think it is from TV. The House of Lords is blinged up to the absolute max with gold. There's all kinds of funny, interesting and largely pointless traditions. And the architecture and artwork is awesome. Someone had to build all that. It's crazy!

After this, I went off to meet my MP. Then I was able to go into the public gallery at the Houses of Commons and watch some of the debates. It was about the EU Common Agriculture policy, which was pretty interesting. The one Labour MP got up and delivered an ever-so-pretty, extremely flowery speech that included comparisons to the 'charge of the Light Brigade' and speaking in French, but by the end of it he hadn't really said much at all. When pressed for an actual opinion he didn't give one, so effectively he thought the same thing as the Conservatives but couldn't possibly say this. This is always what frustrates me about our politicians - at the end of the day most of them are very much the same, and they'll u-turn as soon as they get into power and people just don't see it. People forget.

I also had to do some admin work, like going through my MP's post and filing things. I also had to sign something saying I wouldn't talk about it, so I won't in case I get arrested. What I can divulge is that MPs have some rather interesting people writing to them  - and that's probably about the kindest way I can put it.

The next day was the best, however, because I got to see Prime Minister's Questions. I saw Dave! Well, first of all I saw Ed Miliband (ugh), then Nick Clegg (UGH), a handful of other big names and then David Cameron (still mostly ugh.) The first part of PMQ's was effectively Ed and Dave getting bitchy at each other, which was quite funny - some of their comments just made me think meow! Politicians behaving badly. In the end the speaker told Dave off a bit, because I think he got a bit too personal. Shame, really.

The other thing I got to sit in on was a meeting of the Scottish Independence committee, which got rather dry towards the end but was still pretty interesting.


The view from the office window!~
At the end of the day, I'm not sure I could be a politician. High Overlord maybe, but first you have to be a politician. But London's an awesome city, and I could see myself living there in the future. As a lawyer, maybe - or, preferably, as a successful author. :v

London also has Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Does Cambridge have Krispy Kreme? I think not.

Edits Complete ♡

Finished editing the stories on paper this morning ♥‿♥ Huge relief. Now they just need to be typed up, but I have encountered a bit of a problem.
I absolutely hate the fifth story, We've Lost Our Moral Compass. Absolutely, unequivocally hate it. I've never liked it much, even when I wrote it (it took a month, and I had pretty bad writer's block on it.) And when I read the stories in order, I found that to me, it kind of ruins the whole set. It feels out of place and even when I edit it it doesn't work.
There is only one solution - a complete re-write. Different plot, different everything. I already have ideas, and it shouldn't take a huge amount of time. It's a bit annoying, though - especially considering that I thought I could have a break from writing things for a while! (Also, I can't wait to move on from this project as a whole, it's starting to get wearing after however many months I've spent on it. I want to start my proper novel!)

Incidentally, I've been working extensively on the plot of this series in my spare time and it's expanded into four books instead of three. It's something I've been putting of doing for ages, but it's also something that really needed to be done. The story is cut up far more neatly, now, and I'm quite satisfied with how it's working out!

Back to the shorts, on a positive note, I am very happy with the edits I have done to the other stories. The older ones needed a lot of work, and it's either testament to some improvement over the year or that I wrote them too recently to see mistakes that the newer ones didn't need so much. I'm choosing to believe the first, because it makes me quite proud. :v



The Wizarding World of Harry Potter ϟ

On the thirteenth April I went to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros. Studios  ♥‿♥ And the reason I haven't posted about it yet was that I couldn't find my camera cable and I have tons of pictures. Harry Potter has and always will hold a really special place in my heart, seeing as I grew up with it and it was what first inspired me to be an author. I first started reading them when the fourth Harry Potter book came out in 2000, when I was six, as my parents already had the first three books and hadn't let me read them in case they were too scary. They bought the fourth book and I remember racing through the first three as fast as I could, in order to read the fourth (partially because the cover had a dragon on it, but also because that thing was huge. I'd never read a book as fat as that one, and was determined to do so. I've always had a thing for nice, fat books that took me a good while to finish.)

Needless to say, I loved Harry Potter. I read those books again, and again, and again. I got them on audiotape, my mum read them out to the family after tea. When the fifth book came out we went to buy it from Waitrose at 7am, the shop's opening time, and when we asked for it the manager said we were his first customers and gave it to us for free! Excellent marketing strategy, as then everyone we met in town we told about it. We later bought a second copy for my mum, which we then did ever since as me, her and dad would fight over who got to read them first.

I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix in a day, and every release after that we went at 5am to ASDA to buy the books. I would get so excited for the release days, I wouldn't even sleep! And then I wouldn't put them down until I finished reading them. They were the only days  I was allowed to read at the table, although little-kid-me always tried it. I miss those days so much! They were some of the happiest of my life. We even got a system going - I was the fastest reader and would finish within the day, then passing it on to my dad. My mum would finish her copy in two days, and then give it back to me to read again. ♥‿♥

The films were never as good as the books to me, but they were Harry Potter and so I loved them anyway. Thus, I was really excited when I heard about the studios tour, and desperate to visit from the offset. But the tickets are kind of pricey, so we had to put it off for a year. Finally we came across some vouchers to go (we are so cheap) and jumped at the chance ♥

These are the photos of the day! Be warned, this will probably be a stupidly long post. This isn't even half the stuff we saw that day, and the pictures don't do it justice at all! So if you are a fan of the Harry Potter series and you haven't been, go. It's absolutely fabulous, and I got quite emotional about it afterwards! It really was the end of my childhood, and I may just have teared in the car on the way home. Honestly, I think nothing will ever replace Harry Potter. Nothing will be quite the same, touch people quite the same. I can't imagine it, and that makes me really quite sad - but also happy, because I got to grow up with Harry.

 
The ice sculpture from the Yule Ball ♥‿♥ so much prettier in real life than in the picture!
To the left - do you remember these?  I don't care what anyone says - Umbridge might have been one of the characters people hated the most, but that didn't mean she wasn't an excellent character. To the right are everyone's wands. We bought Lupin's wand in the shop afterwards.
The Gryffindor common room :') Memories!
To the left - me and Mum in the Mirror of Erised. To the right, we're entering Dumbledore's office ♥
The Chamber of Secrets was always one of my favourite movies ♥♥
"I am Snape, the Potions Master."
A broomstick and a Gringott's cart~
The Weasley House, with character outfits.
Oh hello, it's most of my family. What you had to remember was that someone had to build all of this stuff.  Crazy! My dad kept saying that he'd have loved this to be his job.
Recognise these? :>
 
 Buckbeak! He was my favourite character when I first read the books ♥ This robot was moving when we saw it; it was amazing! A video above it explained that when some visitors from Japan came during the filming and were shown the robot, it bowed to them and they bowed to it. But then it bowed to them again, so they too did it again. The robot wouldn't stop bowing, so in the end they had to turn it off so the visitors could see the rest of the studios. What can be said? He is a very courteous magical creature, unless he is offended.
 
The last thing we saw was this huge scaled-down model of the Hogwarts castle itself. This was easily the most amazing part! It was huge, and someone made that. Well, a lot of people, but so much effort went in to every tiny detail.

(I'm sorry for the horrible formatting; blogger makes my text go really small whenever I insert an image. Normally I can fix it in the HTML, but there are so many images it's pretty much impossible.)



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