Saturday 2 November 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013

It's now November 2nd, and all over the world, those taking part will hopefully have written 3,334 of their newest novels for NaNoWriMo. I first attempted NaNo in 2007, but I didn't 'win' until 2008, when I wrote the first draft of my Fowlis Westerby novel. 2009 was a bust, but I did finish a Vertigo City novel in 2010. I didn't complete in 2011, or 2012 since I was trying to balance a PhD and a teaching qualification, both of which left me very little time (or, indeed, headspace for writing). I finished my teaching qualification in May, and I was really tempted to try NaNo again this year. I've got plenty of potential novels to write.

And yet. I love the idea of NaNo but in all honesty, I don't want to rush myself. I had a really productive plotting session with my beloved Nerine Dorman, about my next venture, and she helped me realised just how much research I need to do. Sure, I could write first and correct later, but that just seems a waste of time, especially if factually inaccurate material needed to be scrapped entirely. I went through my other potential novels but they're either too short (the third Grey O'Donnell book will be aimed at 30k, the same as The Guns of Retribution, as will the sequel to my forthcoming Necromancer's Apprentice) or again, they require too much research.

So I'm treating November as Consolidation Month. I'll be working on edits on my Fowlis Westerby novel, which I think is almost done, and I'll be writing the last 2k words or so on the sequel to The Guns of Retribution, a horror Western named To Kill A Dead Man. I also have plotting and research to finish for the novels I want to write, not to mention short stories I'd like to write set in the same world as The Necromancer's Apprentice. I'll never finish it all in one month but I think it's better that I spend the time working on finishing projects, or setting up new ones, instead of writing to splash out 50k words on an idea that isn't ready.

However, I will be cheering on anyone who is tackling NaNo, so leave me a comment, tell me what you're working on, and keep me updated throughout the month!

Friday 1 November 2013

#FridayFlash - Halloween

"Mom, why don't we have a pumpkin?"

Michael looked out the window at the houses across the street. Each one boasted a lit jack o'lantern by the front door, the flickering candlelight throwing jagged faces across their front lawns.

"I don't want any of the dead finding their way back here," said Nancy.

"What about Dad?" asked Michael.

"Especially your dad." Nancy muttered as she turned back to the kitchen counter where dinner lay in various parts across an array of plates.

Michael and his brother Jason clambered onto the sofa, Michael dressed as Woody the Cowboy and Jason as Buzz Lightyear. Their cousin Freddie would be over soon to take them trick or treating. She didn't agree with the commercialism that had crept into the holiday, as the tradition of the poor offering to say prayers for the dead in exchange for soul cakes from richer households was perverted into children begging for candy. Still, the boys being out of the house would give Nancy time to make her preparations.

The doorbell rang. Jason leapt off the sofa and ran across the room. He yanked on the handle and pulled the front door open.

"Honey, I'm hoooooome."

Jason squealed and Nancy whirled around to see Patrick framed in the doorway. Dirt clung to the tattered remains of his burial suit, and grass stuck to the patches of skin worn away through the rotting process. A gnarled hand reached out for Jason, but the boy ducked out of his grasp and threw himself across the room to join his elder brother.

"You didn't leave a light out, honey." Air rasped across decayed vocal chords in a ghastly imitation of speech.

"Boys, go fetch your buckets from the laundry room." Nancy backed slowly across the kitchen.

"Aw, don't you wanna see your dad?" Patrick turned his dead gaze to Michael and Jason, but they dashed towards the laundry room before he could lurch two steps across the carpet. They passed Nancy and dived into the small laundry room next to the kitchen. Nancy had stashed their candy collection buckets in there anyway, so the ruse wasn't a complete lie. She just didn't want them to see what she was about to do next.

"You can't keep your kids from their dad, Nance. It isn't healthy." Patrick continued to rasp as he forced his feet forward two more steps.

Nancy darted forward and snatched up the shotgun from its resting place against the door jamb, kicking closed the door to the laundry room as she did so. Patrick's dead eyes lit up with a terrible understanding as she raised the shotgun and pulled the trigger.

The boys cried out in the laundry room, but they left the door closed. The blast sent shards of bone and tattered scraps of cloth and flesh out of the open front door and across the front path. Nancy glared at the corpse as it swayed, before landing with a wet thump on the carpet. Patrick had never been a tidy husband, but now he'd left a dirty great stain on her living room floor.

She heard voices at the back door, and realised Freddie had arrived. His back yard backed onto hers, and he preferred to cut across the lawn instead of going the long way around. She opened the back window and called out to her nephew.

"Could you take the boys out now? Just cut around the side of the house." Nancy gave him her biggest smile. The teenager, dressed as Wyatt Earp, gave his lop-sided grin, and led the boys across the garden.

Nancy ducked back inside and pulled what was left of Patrick into the house, closing the front door so the boys wouldn't see. Their father would be gone by the time they got back - and this time, he'd be gone for good.

Thursday 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween

Made using a tutorial found here.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Craftblogclub October Challenge Reveal

As we rapidly rush towards the end of October, it's now time to finally show off my product for October's #craftblogclub challenge. The challenge, discussed here on Emma Berry's blog, was to create a Halloween decoration using a craft we'd never tried before. Naturally, for me, that ruled out digital artwork, knitting, crochet, and jewellery. Plus, I also wasn't sure entirely what could be classified as a decoration. Should I make bunting? Confetti? Weird decorations for a seasonal take on a Christmas tree, this time decked out with spiders and bats?

I considered making felt decorations, as my sewing is a craft I need to improve and could therefore be considered a new craft, and also a papercraft response, but as the days began to run out, I decided to have a go at making something out of a glass jar to save time. My mum's marmalade comes in gorgeous straight-sided hexagonal jars, and I thought I'd use one for something. I did want to make a little witch and a cat out of polymer clay to do an updated version of a witch bottle, but I didn't have time, so instead I decided to do a twist on the traditional Halloween pumpkin.

I've always wanted to carve a pumpkin, but as I don't actually like the vegetable itself, it seems like it would be a waste to buy one and throw away the parts I didn't use. So I decided to paint onto a jar, turning the transparent glass orange, except for the clear 'cut out' face. That way, I can burn a tea light inside and get the feel of a pumpkin without having to cut one up. I can also put it on the windowsill, something I wouldn't be able to do with a pumpkin.

Sure, the paintwork looks a bit shoddy, and I need to drill some more holes in the lid to make sure enough oxygen can get inside to keep the flame burning, but I think it's not entirely terrible for a first attempt!

What do you think?