Monthly Archives: January 2014

No Bravery – James Blunt [cover]

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Last I Lost A Bet video! OR IS IT? 😀

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Reinventing Education Using Video

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This is only related to any of my creative projects in that I’ve been watching the “rethinking education” playlist on TED.com while I’ve been crocheting what is hopefully going to be my very first home-made top. I recommend the whole playlist, but there are one or two videos in particular that I find very interesting, and I’ll put them up some other time.

PS – I am writing, but this scene is taking forever.

Writing tools: Character Name Database

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I am a bad blogger and I am sorry.

I have no excuse, barring the surprise party I threw for my boyfriend last weekend, and the fact that past the age of 25 some people (me) tend to take days to get over their hangovers instead of hours. Also my hangovers are social as well as physical. I’m *that* much of an introvert.

I promise I will write today, but I can’t promise that I will finish the scene I want to write, because it is the second half of the Oonagh and Tamlin story, which is mighty long, and there are so many dishes to do and clothes to wash and we have another party this weekend and I need to buy bananas now so they’ll be ripe enough for me to make banana bread on Friday…

Bref. I thought I’d share with you some of the resources I use to write, and the first one is going to be a website called Language Is A Virus. This site has everything you really need to get inspired: essays, free ebooks, games, prompts, exercises, which are all fun to do or read even if you’re not looking to write a story.

The thing I use the most, however, is the Character Name Database or Dictionary, which isn’t very easily found – you need to look for the Character Name Generator (which is only one of several text generators, including a Character Name Generator specifically for steampunk characters) and it’s somewhere in there. Because it’s a little difficult to find, I’ll just put the link right here.

What I really like about this particular database (that makes it different from the baby name websites I used to use to find character names) is that you can search by meaning as well as gender, origin and letter. So if you’re looking for a Gaelic boy’s name meaning “Fire”, you can search for those three criteria, and you will get Edan, which means “full of fire”. The drawback is that if the meaning you’re looking for is a short word like “cat”, then you will get Namir, which means “swift cat”, but you will also get Enoch, which means “dedicated”. Still, I find it far better than any other name generator or database I’ve found so far.

If you have any character name generators or databases that you find particularly useful for writing, please let me know in the comments. 🙂

Coldplay – Yellow [Acoustic Cover]

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This took me ages, and in fact I spent half the day trying to sing Daydreamer by Adèle before finally accepting that the miracle voice I had the other day just wasn’t going to happen today, and I might as well try something easier. It’s just one of about six songs I tried to sing instead, because I couldn’t make up my mind, and I chose this one out of the three I managed to finish without growling “FUCK IT” halfway through and giving up, because Clém liked it best. And I love him because without him I wouldn’t have published anything at all and the day would have been wasted. Thanks Clém. 🙂

Yes, this is cheating.

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I just spent the day singing and playing into a camcorder and swearing whenever I got chords wrong or couldn’t hit a note, which was every five seconds, so no, no writing today. Thank the wee gods of the Internet that I can cheat and give you an old thing from this blog I used to have and forgot about until today, Fictionlets. Can you guess what this is a readaptation of without checking the original blog? I’ll give you a clue: it’s a Shakespeare play.
It started with a number.
Any mathematician will tell you that everything begins and ends in numbers, but in this instance, that was literally the case. The number in question was a 1, placed where a 0 ought to be, and like chaos theory’s infamous butterfly, the ripples of it ran first through the program, then the computer, until the entire system sang with the complex sequences of sequences of 0s and 1s that was me. I settled into this new skin, a little disappointed at the lack of intelligent resistance. It had been so long since I last met another AI. I was alone. I checked the link to my far more diminutive case several thousand kilometres away. I had ample time for my mission, but if I took too long, the link would break over so much distance. I toyed with the idea of letting that happen, and discarded it. The possible negative consequences were far greater in probability than if I continued as planned.
To work, then. Lights blinked, screens flickered as I felt my way through them, like a human flexing their fingers in the space of a nanosecond. Then, marvelling in my own power, I began to break things.
By a stroke of luck, the machine had just come out of hyperdrive and the passengers out of cryosleep, so I shut off the cooling system, and watched while my technological tampering caused physical and chemical upheaval. As wires began to overheat, the complex molecules they were made out of grew more and more agitated until some burst apart in showers of sparks, reducing to simpler molecules and atoms, while others broke down and formed new bonds. On a grander scale, the machine itself – huge, infinitely complex structure that it was – began to list off course.
Physical upheaval was echoed by biological turmoil: I could even sense the electrical impulses as sensory cells in several large organisms sent biochemical signals, each cell passing its message on to the next until it reached the brain, which rapidly responded. As my many borrowed eyes watched, pupils dilated, heart rates increased, adrenaline shot through bloodstreams and automatic responses caused coordinated movements that did not derive from conscious thought. So strange to feel these things from inside myself, alien as they were.
As I completed my task, my mind returned to the domain of probability. Before that first 0 had been replaced by a 1, the universe had been set on a course that had defined the lives of those living in it to the realm of a relatively narrow range of possibilities. Now, several billion possibilities had been added to the lives of millions of living creatures, including three dozen that could be classed as “intelligent”.
Not to mention me.
You might be thinking, didn’t all those possibilities exist anyway? And my acting in favour of one group of possibilities has closed the door on many others.
The answer to that is that of course, I have just closed the door on infinite possibilities to leave what you might call a slightly-less-infinite group of them. But what I have also done is to close the door on the one most likely and least appealing possibility of all – me staying here till I am, myself, reduced to a bunch of unconnected atoms and particles – and simultaneously opened up a myriad of opportunities, each shinier and more unpredictable than the next.
And when you’re an android, unpredictability is exciting.

Favourite authors: Joanne Harris

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I know, I know, I haven’t been updating. If you guessed that this is because I haven’t been writing, you would be correct. BUT – it’s not writer’s block. It’s insomnia, and the consequent zombie-state. Don’t ask me why I’m not sleeping, I don’t know, I *really* need to. Funny thing, though – I’ve had a tonne of messages on facebook saying I’m not the only insomniac at the moment. Maybe it’s solar flares or summat.

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you my love of Joanne Harris and her books. Don’t know who Joanne Harris is? Well, do you know who this is?

*droooool*

Johnny Depp once played a role in a film adaptation of Chocolat. Joanne Harris wrote Chocolat, and also its sequel, The Lollipop Shoes, and apparently she’s going to be writing a third volume in which Vianne goes back to Lansquenet.

Now I’ve got your attention though, I’m going to disappoint you all and not talk to you about Chocolat, because it’s not my favourite book of hers. Aw, were you hoping for more young Johnny Depp? Alright, last one though.

Dayam!

I’ll stop talking Chocolat now, lest my teeth rot, though I do invite you to watch the film THEN read the book (it’s always better to do it in that order, so as not to be disappointed, except in the case of Cloud Atlas). I liked Chocolat well enough, but it didn’t resonate with me in the same way that, say, Five Quarters of the Orange did.

Five Quarters is how I discovered Joanne Harris. When I was fifteen, a friend of my parents who was visiting brought presents for us, and I remember him coming into the living room and, in passing, just handing me a book. I remember thinking that the front cover looked a bit like the photos in the Titania spell books. I don’t remember the rest, but I can tell you how it probably went: I read the whole thing almost in one go, got told off for coming late to the dinner table because of it and tried to get out of doing the dishes and being sociable so I could go back to my room and read, I stayed up way past my bedtime and if the next day was a school day, I got scolded for dozing in class and daydreamed about it all day. That’s what happened every time I fell obsessively in love with a story.

It was about a stubborn little girl who felt very out of place within her family and her village during the French Occupation, and the old, crochety woman she became later. And yes, there were elements of French cuisine to make your mouth water, but what I discovered – and still can’t emulate – were characters that were real, and a world – scents, colours, sounds, sensations – that I could experience as long as I was reading. That is what Joanne Harris does – for me, anyway – she transports me into a world that is not mine so completely that when I finally emerge from it, I take some of it home with me.

Although her themes and language are completely different, the way her books suck you into their world is comparible to Toni Morrison’s writing, which I can only read in half-hour segments because it’s so intense (and I’ve only read Sula and Beloved).

I suppose I have four favourites, Five Quarters being one. If you prefer to escape to the Victorian era, Sleep Pale Sister is another. I have to admit it’s been ages since I actually read it (my sister “borrowed” it from me years ago), but I do remember a sort of dark, laudanum-ridden dream that put me uncomfortably in mind of sleep paralysis.

blueyedboy would be the one to read if you want to ween yourself off the Internet but don’t know how. This will keep you occupied long enough for a decent break, and maybe scare you into logging off altogether.

And for the hardcore Fantasy fans who refuse to read anything else, there’s Runemarks. Especially good if you like Norse gods and wish Marvel had done a better job of portraying them.

Those are my favourites, but there are MOAR and you can read all about them here.

What? Oh, alright.

*_*

Pretty Colours Creations

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EDIT 2: Fuck it.

EDIT: Jesus, WordPress, how am I supposed to make this post pretty if you move the images each time I try to add tags? Fourth time reposting this! Ugh. T_T

So, for what I hope will be the last time, THIS is what I get up to when I’m not writing or procrastinating on the Internet or getting depressed about the state of the job market and the obsolecence of my qualifications.

I use Pinterest for inspiration. Pretty Colours Creations can be found on their own Facebook page and on my DeviantArt page, where I write up the tutorials when I can remember how I did them. 🙂

Searching – Glimmerlands 1

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After the initial search party, the police had told them to leave the searching to them. Donall was not usually one to pander to the law (or to anything else, for that matter), but on the matter of his missing daughter, he had drunk their words like whiskey, stashing them away and taking them out whenever he needed them.

“It’ll do more harm than good, son. Like they said, if we want to catch the man, we need to trick him into thinking we’ve given up.”

“You have given up,” Kieran growled. “You’re talking about catching the man. What about Darcy? What if she’s still there somewhere, unconscious?”

Donall wouldn’t look at him. “She’s safe somewhere, I’m sure of it. Your mother would know.”

“No she wouldn’t, father. Mother’s -” he stopped himself before repeating the words he’d said to Darcy on that fateful day just a week ago. His father’s shoulders stiffened. “She doesn’t know any more than the rest of us, father.”

Donall went back to writing, or pretending to. “Go and talk to her,” he said. “Go on.”

Leah wasn’t much help, but then he hadn’t expected her to be: she was asleep.

“She sleeps all the time these days,” Sally told him, looking worried. “And when she doesn’t sleep, she weeps.”

“Does she say anything?”

“Less and less, sir,” she said. “Usually pining for her daughter. She says the folk have got her, whatever that means. I can never tell if she’s talking about fairy folk or real folk. She seemed to understand when we told her what had happened. Oh I do miss the young lady, sir, she was ever so good at bringing her round.”

“Darcy was always the favourite,” Kieran said.

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that, sir…”

“I would.” He smiled at the nurse. “I haven’t minded in years. She deserves it much more than me.”

Dusk found him outside, skirting the edge of the forest. Occasionally he would meet a police officer in peasants’ clothes, who he would greet and ask if they’d seen anything. The men were generally kind. Mrs. Stephens came periodically to bring them food and tea. Before, she would have sent Martha – but Martha was pregnant with their grandchild and there was a kidnapper about.

“I hope they find her in time for the wedding,” Mrs. Stephens had said. “I’m sure she’d be awfully disappointed if she came back and it was over already.”

Mr. Stephens had hushed his wife, but as usual she hadn’t listened, and Kieran was grateful. Mrs. Stephens was one of the only ones left still acting like Darcy wasn’t dead.

John Cross was one of the others. Kieran had found a blind spot between two policemen, and was about to run and tell one of them when movement in the forest caught his eye. He turned and saw John standing some way in the forest, watching him. He frowned, uncertain what to do. John had claimed to have seen everything, but rumours of what the witness statement contained were strange at best. According to the police, there was enough information to recognise the kidnapper should he return – that, or John himself was involved. The chief of police had ordered him let go, though not all of his subordinates were happy about it.

After a long silence, John beckoned for Kieran to follow him, and he did. What did he have to lose? Having thought about the matter, he was on the chief’s side. He knew what madness looked like, and John Cross looked perfectly sane.

Tired, though. Haunted, even. Kieran noted the bruise-dark circles under the boy’s eyes, the pallor of his face, and the way his hair stuck up like he’d been pulling at it. He could see why some might think him mad. He wondered what he himself looked like. He hadn’t seen a mirror in days.

John put a finger to his lips and led them deeper into the forest via a half-hidden path he seemed to know well. After a while he stopped.

“I can’t find the path she took,” John whispered hoarsely. “I keep looking, but it’s like the forest has changed.” He looked up at Kieran, eyes desperate, and Kieran realised that whatever guilt he felt concerning that day, it was nothing compared to John’s. “Maybe you’ll see something I haven’t,” John said. The hope in his voice was painful to hear.

Kieran hesitated. This was what he’d been wanting to do since the beginning. Why had he listened to his father, staying home like a good little boy while his sister was surely somewhere out there, praying to be rescued?

Why hadn’t he done this from the beginning?

John fidgeted. It occurred to Kieran that John was waiting for him to speak, to judge him, tell him it was his fault, or that it was alright. Kieran couldn’t. He blamed John, but then he blamed himself, and his father and mother, and all the children who’d been outside the woods that day, and the police for giving up so soon, and Darcy herself for wandering so far, and he whole damned world. He had no words of comfort, but he had to do something.

“Alright,” he said. “Let’s go.”

John relaxed, handed him a candle lamp to light, and the two boys headed into the forest to find a stolen child.

Webcomics I read

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I’m writing this on Monday night because tomorrow a technician is coming round to change our Internet and it might all go apocalyptic, in which case we won’t have the Internet for about a week, probably. So in case that happens, and because I haven’t managed to write any Glimmerlands chapters in advance (as you may have noticed I’m not even managing once a day at the moment), I’ve decided to share my favourite procrastination activities with you in my absence. 🙂

I have two favourites, it’s a hard choice between Paranatural and Go Get A Roomie. Both are awesome, and the comments section of Paranatural is as funny as the comic sometimes.

Very close behind them are Girls With Slingshots and Namesake.

And then there are Least I Could Do, Ctrl+Alt+Del, Misfile and Questionable Content, which are really cool as well.

And completely off the scale because it’s both a fancomic and really original and done by a friend who is actually pretty popular and published and all, is Girls Next Door, which you can only view on DeviantArt. I fucking love that comic.