Not many people know what steampunk is and I love introducing people to it.
Steampunk is rapidly breaking out from the shadows and presenting itself to the world fashionably as well as through film and literature.
"Steampunk is an eclectic world of cogs and rivets. It is airships, goggles and steam. It is romance. It is travelling on clouds and diving beneath rugged waves. It is adventure!"
- Aether Emporium, Steampunk Website
For me it's an escapism to a world that is fun, vast and immense. I'm one for old fashioned trinkets and fashion, the Victorian era is my favourite time period and with the magic of technology and sci-fi devices we now have steampunk.
The Jackson J Tales is told in a fictional world (with a twist) full of steampunk elements and surprises throughout. It's an ever-lasting, imaginative universe where nearly anything and everything is possible and that's what I love about the stories I've created.
The Comic-Con Expo in London always features a stall or two strictly advertising the steampunk fashion and art. Many people turn up in costume, many live the lifestyle and worship the craze of cogs and goggles.
I myself collect and customize my belongings to express my passion and love for the fashion, whether it's my pocket watch or my self-made airship in my room, I love the authenticity the genre has.
I'm in love with the romance of it - the combination of old and new, the parallel world of what is and what could have been.
I've discovered steampunk bands like Abney Park, designers such as the inspirational Kate 'Kato' Lambert who is also a judge on the reality game show Steampunk'd.
I have a collection of books that help fuel my own personal designs for my plots as well as keeping me entertained and creative.
I think it's fun to be involved in something you have a kinship with or towards and I would happily encourage anyone to be comfortable in what makes them feel happy and unique. For me, it's my fascination with the unusual, which has often been greeted with pleasant compliments more often than the sceptical comment from a stranger.
My concluding comment is no matter how strange or unusual your interest is, whether it's the study of ghost stories, unicorns, mother nature or mythology, trust in it because you never know what your mind is capable of or where it's capable of taking it.
February is almost upon us, I can't quite believe how fast January's gone by. This time last month everyone was getting ready to enter 2016 with fresh minds and new goals.
January hasn't been a good month for me, not with a few deaths of some well known celebrities, one of which has been such an inspiration to me since I was a child, Mr Alan Rickman.
It's really awful when disaster strikes, families suffer and go through days, weeks, months of stress. I have to confess that my family and I went through a couple weeks of sickly dread when a family member ended up in intensive care. Thankfully he's on the road to recovery now which has taken a load off our minds.
My writing has suffered, my mind's experienced a blow and that can be frightening for a writer. Our minds happen to be our safe haven, our portal to various worlds we've created and most of the time it's our escapism. I find that when reality penetrates my portal of wonderment and dreams, it poses a risk to my novel plots.
Having said that, it's important to discipline your mind and find something that can draw you back in, like I said in my previous post, find the jump leads that will help you find your way back.
Sometimes it only takes a song or a movie or another book to get my cogs turning again. Being active in body and mind is healthy, I've found that when I'm absolutely shattered from work I find it so hard to focus and get into the writing mode.
I have an obsession at the moment, the TV Programme How To Get Away With Murder has to be one of the best programmes I've encountered. Its constant twists and turns and unexpected dramas how could anyone not be addicted to this program? It's inspired me to think more about my own twists and turns I have in store for my characters. Annaliese Keating's demeanour and attitude reminds me of the kind of woman Viera Jackson J is growing into - a very intelligent, driving force that many people look up to for help and advice despite her damaged past.
I'm hoping with February's impending arrival to jump back into the portal that would take me back to the Jackson Js, as much as my confidence and esteem has suffered these past couple of weeks, I have to push on. Luckily for me support is never far but it's always up to me to take the step forward,
A little tip: If you want to write but you struggle to, try writing free flow sentences (sentences that come into your head simultaneously without thinking about it) and see where it leads you. This warm up exercise was something I learnt in University and it still helps.
Catch you later!
I know it's been a while since my last post but this month has literally sucked up all my time, money and energy, what with several birthdays and a lot of expenses. It's safe to say I've been incredibly busy and exhausted, which has also - admittedly - affected my writing flow.
Now, before, when I'd struggle to find my footing in my book, I'd crumble and find myself sinking into a hole of helplessness...which never helped because I'd want others to help me when really, ultimately, it would be down to me to help myself. Which would only finally happen after months of sulking and being an emo mess.
Now, however, I have more support networks, including my editor who has naturally been on top form. She made a few suggestions as to what can help get me back into the flow of things. A change of location (which I full on support), interaction with others about my book, plot and characters, (which I can find daunting...especially online so I tend to shy away...I shouldn't really) and meditation (which actually also does a lot to relieve stress you have harboured in your mind).
I also find that after a long period of time my mind begins to get restless and my characters start harassing me, wanting their story to be told. Inspiration takes hold of me like a pair of jump leads, kick starting my flow. In a way it's a bit like a super power...except it's one of those super powers you have no control over.
My jump leads grasp onto specific things that have some kind of similarity with my JJ universe. The Assassin's Creed game series (Black Flag) is one example along with Alice: Madness Returns, television shows like Penny Dreadful, Game of Thrones, The Originals, and movies such as Pirates of The Caribbean, Sherlock Holmes, Hell Boy, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Riddick.
I recently went to Rome which really helped stretch out my perspective and widen my potential plot paths. The history and the unforgettable architecture really brought the jump leads out quicker than I anticipated which I must say has inspired me to plan out more adventures to historical sites and cities...in a way I suppose I'll be living the life of my characters #Winning
Lesson to uphold: Keep feeding the mind with as much positivity as possible, whether it's art, poetry, a great movie, an encounter with a friend and be open to the inspiration it has to offer.
Absolutely no words can truly describe how I'm feeling right now.
The best I can do is throw words your way and hope you can even begin to understand.
Elated. Blessed. Grateful. Untouchable. Special. Lucky. Emotional. Touched. Speechless. Honoured. Stunned. Undeserving. Incredible.
Let me explain...
People go through life building friendships with others who they feel are on their level. Now sometimes, it turns out these 'levelled' people are nothing but embodiments of negative energy set to see you fail. A deceitful/false friendship can take a great deal of time to get over...then there's the whole stop, meet, repeat--until we get the right souls aboard our soul train.
Now for me, I've seen my fair share of deceit but I've also seen my fair share of golden rarity amongst the human race. I can honestly say that for a while now I've been surrounded by this unique halo of positivity and its mainly down to a few people who I'm SO grateful to have in my life. #Blessed
Now I'm only going to be discussing one of them today because today of all days, she must take centre stage. Even if I have to drag her up there, she will stand there and be acknowledged for the masterpiece she's created.
A while ago I gave my friend a description of a weapon Kennedy Jackson J possesses on him at all times. A khopesh (an Egyptian sickle-sword). She's an artist, an incredibly talented artist who has also drawn a sigil from Origin which can also be found on the blade itself..
But this khopesh is a lot more complicated, a lot more detailed so I was slightly nervous but I held a whole lot of faith for this girl and LORD, SHE DID NOT DISAPPOINT.
Viante--The one who possesses a heart of gold, steel, diamond, ruby, whatever the hell you want to throw in there--finally revealed the completed free-hand drawing...and...I'm still paralysed with intense emotion at how perfectly she captured the weapon...not only that, but the realism of the blade makes me feel the thing could cut me if I stared too long.
I never thought it was possible for something born from my insane imagination to be recognised so perfectly--it's an indescribable feeling. Honestly.
In a few years if I go to Comic-Con and see someone cosplay as Kennedy with a hand-made khopesh I will die from a heart attack. That's just ONE of my dreams.
My beloved friend of intense, raw talent can be found on Deviant Art, click here or the button below to see her other amazing works. She's truly a talented girl who doesn't nearly get as much credit as she deserves <3 Thank you so much SR (she's so awesome that we share the same initials) ;)
I'm honestly feeling so blessed. All good things...all in good time.
Keep those golden rarities close, guys.
Been an incredibly busy week for me yet again in preparation for my Shine Night Walk for Cancer Research last night. Me and the Chica (the best friend) completed the 13 mile walk in 4 hours 25 minutes, a huge accomplishment which I couldn't be prouder of! I'm aching but that pain disappears when I set my sights on my medal.
So this blog post today is about Tempted (Book 2 of The JJ Tales).
As I'm writing and working through my partial revisions I listen to a mountain load of music to push me through to the next stage and to keep my focus. But I also find I encounter songs that completely and utterly relate to some of my characters that actually make me stop and think "Wow...this song was written for you [name]."
In this circumstance, I tend to listen to those songs that seem to be reading Ken or Viera's minds and I write a random scene where their emotions are running the highest. This works like magic, honestly.
It's insane how one song can fuel you.
Without giving much away, my character of focus at the moment is Charity Durantez.
Charity was mentioned in Book 1, Origin, as being an old flame of Ken's, but she was never introduced until Tempted. So you just know shit will happen in this upcoming book (women at war).
Charity was with Ken for a period of 3 years and does a good job to remind everyone of the fact, especially Viera. But she just can't get it in her head that Ken's desire for her company is long over. Women eh? Some just don't take the hint!
One song that preaches her woes the loudest for me is 'I Know You' by Skylar Grey. As well as the song being quite haunting, the lyrics seriously hit the nail on the head. It really does bring out my sympathy for this Spanish lady.
All I can say is...moving on can be a hard thing...incredibly hard especially if you're in a delusional state. We all have that one friend who is Charity...don't you just want to shake their head out of the clouds? Or in Viera's case, kill them? (Trust me, that's not even extreme when it comes to the female Jackson J).
So my question is...what would you do if one of your lover's old flames turned up out of the blue and invaded the home you share with them? No question of what I'd do *sinister grin*
Food for thought,
It has literally been one of the most stressful weeks I've had in months.
Hence why I've been so quiet on here. Sorry about that!
New role at work and it's quite challenging...mentally mainly. I've been feeling drained and distracted. I sometimes have to remind myself that work only takes up 8 hours of my day and after those 8 hours I'm free to relax...well...sort of...
I've been a wreck for a couple of days so when my editor came back to me with a revision on my partial manuscript for Tempted earlier this week I saw it as a saving grace. I can't give anything away regarding the deets but all I can say is I'm absolutely BUZZING!
Positive feedback, while can keep us smiling and gives us that extra oomph, can also steer us in a better direction in whatever we do. In this case, hearing what you can do better when you feel you've already done your best can be quite wounding.
It's understandable, you've worked hard at something, spent hours putting effort into it, then hear that it's not yet at the top...we've all been there.
But time heals all wounds and sometimes you need to have a piece of humble pie and strive to be better. There's ALWAYS room for improvement. I've always known that.
From experience you'll get people who want to see you fail, who try to put you down emotionally in whatever way they can--but it takes hard lessons to learn how to differentiate between the fakes and the genuiene. I remember a fellow student at my university who used to slaughter my work...god knows what her problem was, but it used to really affect me. In the end I grew to realise her opinion really didn't matter. I knew my writing style and my worth and so I took constructive criticism from my lecturer and pushed on.
Criticism comes in every shape and form in every action you do. The trick is to accept these criticisms but try to avoid internalising them otherwise they'll make you paranoid and low..the .best thing you can do is to work on yourself (not for their satisfaction, but for your own) so these criticisms become nothing but air on the future.
In all honesty I continue to face a lot of criticism. Specifically with my writing. But I accept only the constructive and then make plans to see if I can work on improving. Not for their sake, but for mine. This week my editor gave me a lot of CC and I embraced it with open arms because I know at the end of the day she's genuiene, and it's for my own benefit. Even if my week was going badly, it lifted me up in the best way possible.
Saving grace is what I call those moments. The positive vibe that comes exactly at the right time.
You know when you make biscuits and you plan to make a certain amount but there's leftover dough...not enough to make a reasonably sized biscuit yet you don't want to chuck it away?
Well sometimes writing can be a bit like that.
I end up having to take out a lot from my chapters, but can't let them disappear and be nothing in a press of the backspace button--so, I save them, name them 'leftover dough' and use them later on. Whether it's later on in the book or used in the rest of the series, every sentence or paragraph of information is relevant and useful. You make use of it one day.
Like an idiot I made a fatal mistake of accidentally deleting over three pages of juicy content written in the POV of one of my characters.
I'm still mourning the loss.
Unfortunately it's just one of those things that still happens. It didn't help that I had several documents open and I was flicking from one page to the next. That's where it helps to have some guidance so you don't get lost.
Another reason why 'leftovers' should be kept aside and not thrown away:
i) Even if you don't end up going back to it later on, it can be used to help rediscover lost inspiration or creativity! You may find that it can push you to continue making more dough until you can make a loaf of bread or a batch of cookies.
ii) It can hold information you completely forgot about.
iii) It could act as a age monitor for your writing. Sometimes you look back at your old work from school and notice just how much you've grown as a writer. You familiarise yourself with your old writing style and compare and maybe decide what you could do better.
The way I see it, hitting the backspace button and deleting a whole batch of information is like throwing away a book or an idea. You've pretty much thrown away something that could have turned out to be a sick creation! BUT it's not so bad when or if the content is gone...because (like me) new ideas keep popping out onto the page and you actually end up writing better than you did before.
There's always a positive to a negative, remember that!
I've just completed an emotional scene.
Yes, I've done them before, actually last year when I was in the initial throes of the writing process for Tempted I wrote a scene that had me in tears, sobbing like my cat had died (I don't have a cat--was the closest example I could come up with).
I do a lot of scenes with emotion in them, you know...anger, lust, pain, hatred, passion...it's easy to feel what characters feel, see what they see and almost be there with them in the moment. Like a ghostly bystander where you just want to shake some sense into the character or punch them in the face.
But really emotional scenes where the characters have to make a life-changing decision, or face death...now that's just different for me.
The first time I did that it truly devastated me.
You suffer real loss. Especially when you made the character. He, or she, or even it is a part of you, almost like your child. So naturally their death means a part of you is now dead with it. Empty and alone. It can be hard to accept a new character in its place. But that's life, right?
I hate emotional scenes, when the lives of my characters are in danger, or facing some heartache, or betrayal. But I'm grateful for them too. Scenes like that evoke emotion within the reader, it often presents them with something they can relate to or understand.
In order to gear myself up for an emotional scene/chapter I have to mentally repeat the event in my head and tell myself that this is what is going to happen and I can do nothing about it. Otherwise I'd be making life just a little bit too easy, and possibly boring, for my characters if I allowed life to be all rainbows, unicorns and sex, right?
I have to go through the acceptance stage first, convince myself that it'll work out, that my characters will become stronger. I need to have just as much faith in them as I would in a real human being.
Once the scene is done...well I take a timeout, make an earl grey tea, sigh sadly while holding Mr Julian Leopold (my leopard) next to me and stuff my face with cake. Life isn't easy for a writer...you have to make tough choices. Sacrifices.
But I'll talk more about the sacrifices in my next post.
Point is, when you read a book and you come across a scene that is heart wrenching and you start cursing the author, just know that they went through the pain long before you did and had to deal with it a lot faster!
With love guys,
When you're working 8 hours five days a week the last thing you'd think about doing when you get home is working again.
I spoke to my editor yesterday and she admitted that it can be very hard and exhausting and motivation can abandon you BUT there are ways to help locate motivation again, which is where the writing challenges come in.
My approach to keeping my motivation and that flow of writing is to take my laptop to work. I find that I'm more likely to get more writing done during my breaks at work than when I step through the house door at 5pm.
I was stuck briefly today though. I did my #1k1hr challenge on my lunch break but couldn't help prettying up my sentences and over-thinking. Did I reach my goal, no! I could have kicked myself. But I continued later on because as you're probably aware by now, I'm working to a deadline.
I adore deadlines. They keep you in place and on the right track, forcing you to plan and prioritise. Though in University I was never part of the group of students who would still be working on their projects on the actual D day. I like to complete and edit my work well in advance. The competitiveness comes out.
But in order to reach my personal deadlines I often sacrifice sleep.
Guys...let me tell you now. Sleep is crazy important. More often than not I have finished writing at 4am then wake at 6am to get ready for work. I get through the day in a daze. I'm so spaced out it's unreal.
I'm still slapping my hand, berating myself for putting my body through it. But it's just that I'm a stressy-betty. I forget that lack of sleep affects my quality of writing--so even if I reached 3K by using matchsticks to support my eyelids, the content will likely suck.
Something to keep in mind.
Don't over-exert yourself to reach deadlines.
Remember to eat, drink and sleep!
Day three - Just reached the 1k in that hour...proving to be a little bit frustrating but all I can do is keep going!
I used to think that doing all-nighters staring at a dimly lit computer screen meant I was guaranteed to produce top notch results, but actually when my body is in between consiousness and unconsiousness and absolutely trembling from exhaustion, I ask myself "How useful will I be if I collapse?"
Not very I imagine.
So I've settled for a little drive --just a cruise with no destination-- to allow that break from robotically writing throughout the night. It's maddening when you want to get something done but feels there's just not enough time. That's me. The ever-so-impatient hermit who doesn't see the bigger picture.
Ideas can be collected very easily nowadays, all you need really is your mobile on hand to open up a note app and jot down thoughts or inspired ideas (if the traditional notebook and pen isn't within reach). I even find that recording my narration on my phone is a great way to archive and store ideas quicker. I don't particularly care for the puzzled glances I get from people when I'm walking past them saying something like "He touched her body and she shivered from anticipation, drawing him closer against her naked flesh, gasping when his fingers teased her wet --" Yeah.
My 1k1hr today had me a bit stumped. I hate when I have so many ideas but don't know which one to settle on...especially when I'm rushed for time. So I end up going with one idea hoping it'll fall into place. It's a risk, a bit like a gamble. But when ideas are constantly streaming through your mind I find my brain will consider all possible outcomes until one idea flashes before me, a "light bulb" idea. I love when I get these light bulb ideas...they're occasional, they make me smile, make me feel my the random plot ideas were there for a purpose.
So something to take away from this is don't ever feel your ideas are nonsensical thoughts...every idea has a purpose even if you feel they don't add up, keep a note of every single one. You never know when the light bulb will ping.
Praise for the light bulb!