Sunday, 24 April 2016

[UPDATED] Ink, Inc. Turns Four // Survey // Giveaway

*UPDATED:  You can now read the post, hopefully. The irony that I was posting about stuff I've learnt over four years of blogging, and yet couldn't make the post work, is not lost on me.*

Today it is my blogoversary!


To be honest, I'm slightly annoyed that Emily-four-years-ago didn't think to start her blog one day earlier, because then my blogoversary would be the same day as Shakespeare's birth and death days. And my fourth blogoversary would have been the four hundredth anniversary of his death, and it would all have been really nice and connected.

But, to quote everyone's favourite musical, the past is in the paaast ... 

Anyway, Ink, Inc. is four today! Technically, this is only partially true; the first time I posted under the name Ink, Inc. was the 17th of November 2015, so the blog in this manifestation is under a year old. But it was way back in 2012 that I started with Emily's Chronicles (an appalling name), which then morphed into Emily Etc., which became the blog you see before you.

I remember something Sunny from A Splash of Ink said, about a blog over your teenage years being a document of growth. I think that's a great description. I was thirteen when I started blogging, and whilst I have enough self-preservation to have moved my oldest posts to a private blog (hence my archives don't go all the way to the beginning), I can still see how I have changed and how the blog has changed me. Would you like to read my very first post?
April 24th, 2012
Well, I have a blog. I’ve always been attracted by the idea, although I’m now wondering…is it egoistical to want something in which you do nothing but write about yourself? I don’t know how much of my life would make good reading; I don’t have an epic project like Julie in Julie & Julia, and my day-to-day existence is hardly fascinating, unless you’re in to descriptions of hour long Physics lessons, so I think I will intersperse these posts with stories and pictures. I don’t want to go on, so I’ll just say: if you’re reading this, thanks :L
And that's it. No title. No ending punctuation mark, just an :L face, such as I frequently overused. (There used to be emoticons like whoa around here. It was a dark time.) Thirteen-year-old me had no clue what she was doing. In many ways, seventeen-year-old me is no better off, but I think -- I'm sure -- that, however cringey it is to admit, writing a blog has changed me for the better. I'm sure I'm not alone in that I sometimes have moments of uncertainty, when I wonder why I'm doing this; as I answer questions in tags or spend hours taking pictures of books amongst flowers, I have an occasional attack of what's the point? There are questions of artistic pride and integrity in there, and I'm a strong believer that filler posts are pointless, but actually, whatever some may say, there is so much use in this internet life we lead! If I hadn't started blogging, I would never have found out about NaNoWriMo. If I hadn't signed up in a rush for Camp NaNo in July 2013, I would never have started my current novel. I'm sure I would be writing some book of some description, but it wouldn't be this book, my book, and that's a horrifying thought. And if I didn't have so many wonderful writer friends met in the blogosphere, it would be much harder for me to continue. Moreover, if I weren't being buoyed along by the excitement of the book blogging community, would I have read half the wonderful books I have? Would I have heard of The Raven Boys or We Were Liars? Blogging has given me so, so much over the years.

Most importantly, you guys are really great! I'm not going to go into paroxysms of tearful love (I am British), but at the end of the day it is the followers and friendships I have built that make all of this worthwhile. There's no point writing books if you don't want people, friends, to read them, and I wouldn't have half those people if I didn't have you. And why read and love characters alone when you can read and love characters with others? To everyone who has fangirled with me over Richard Campbell Gansey III, I say a massive thank you.

(On another note, The Raven King comes out the day after tomorrow. I don't think there's any point using cap locks, exclamation marks or asdfghlks because right now those things cannot convey what I feel.)

I have zero doubts that blogging has vastly improved my writing, opened my eyes to so many new books, and most importantly let me meet some wonderful people. I am really looking forward to going forward with you lovely lot. As someone slightly averse to lots of overt affection, I really want to put something snarky and sarcastic in here, but I'm not going to because I'm being sincere!

Now: a survey! Mostly because I've seen Tracey and Victoria doing it and I'm a little bleating sheep, but also because I would love to have your opinions. 

*In the original post I embedded this, but I think it was it that was causing the issues (I have no clue why), so instead, click here to reach the survey!*

And the bit you've all been waiting for: a giveaway! 


I feel slightly horrible to make “follow Ink, Inc." the condition, because it feels a bit snooty, but listen, I'm not doing this to try and cheaply gain followers. Instead, I genuinely want to thank you guys, and I would hate for a non-follower who has come sniffing here because they know there's a giveaway on (not that I blame you! I do that too!) to win, when I have you lovely lot in mind. 
Savvy?

(However, I do know that some people follow unofficially, so, for example, if you are my lovely new unofficial follower Blue, just say “hey, I'm Blue!" and I will know. Fear not.)

I don't want to drag this out unnecessarily, so go, lead your life. Write that book, paint that masterpiece, don a tinfoil hat and rock back and forth anticipating The Raven King (that's my plan). Good luck in the giveaway; thanks for doing the survey; thanks for making my blogging life awesome!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Paper Dolls

GUYS GUYS GUYS I DID A THING.

I MADE PROPER PAPER DOLLS.

Sheesh, I've not done an art post in ages. If you're new around here, you may not realise that this is an art blog as well as a book and writing one. If we're getting nostalgic here, I actually used to have a weekly feature called Art Tuesday, if you can believe it. (I also used to post every day. Cue vomiting. Ah, well, it was a simpler time.)

Anyway, back to the far more interesting topic of proper paper dolls.

Honestly, I think my career as an artist has peaked here.

Meet the dolls. This is the first and last picture of women in underwear you're going to see on this blog ... unless I decide to make more dolls in the future. WHICH IS LIKELY.

I'm not exactly saying I personally want tattoo sleeves, but ...
A close-up of the tats. Please notice: the Deathly Hallows; the Libs (Cat's favourite band); the Smiths song lyric. That was slightly self-indulgent on my part. You know how much I love the Smiths, and I Know It's Over is the song of my soul. But this present was made mostly for my own enjoyment, so ... (I'm kidding. Well, largely.)

That green dress was the first one I made. I think it is pretty glam and I would like to own it. Another fun fact for you: before Art Tuesday it was Fashion Tuesday, in which I shared fashion illustrations. That is looking quite far back in this blog's history. I stopped doing fashion illustrations a couple of years ago, but I do enjoy drawing clothes. 

Her favourite illustrator is called David Shrigley, and the jumper is a copy of one of his works (see the original here).
We had a bit of a bra sitch on the right there, wherein I didn't check how high the top needed to be to cover the bra, just gaily drew it and cut it out and then thought: oh.
But we've all been there in real life, haven't we?
 
If you like Kate Moss and/or Pete Doherty you may get this T-shirt. Also, please appreciate the mom jeans.
The colour palette of the dress did not go to plan (ie, it went crazy), but these things happen and we must accept them.

A shoe close-up. I really want some brogues. Kindly notice the fish/whale pattern on the espadrilles.

I JUST WANT A RED CORSET AND A RUFFLE SKIRT, IS THAT TOO MUCH?
Well, and some yellow Docs, but most of all THAT T-SHIRT!!! I did not originate the slogan; it came from a T-shirt on Redbubble. Said T-shirt was quite ugly, though; my aesthetic is better. (Humble aren't I?) But, yeah, if you'd like to manufacture a T-shirt with those words in a nice design and send it to me, that'd be appreciated greatly.
I really really do want Docs. Really a lot.

I presented them all in a book with adorable mini hangers. The shoes, if you're interested, have Velcro on the back of them, to attach to the dolls' feet. The clothes themselves have tags that go through slits on the dolls' shoulders.

Two things are true: that writing is my passion and my art form, and that I complain a bit about having to draw for school (I study Art this year). But there is a third thing, which is that I really really love creating visual art. I think I'm a bit tired of making it for examinations, making it to be marked, but drawing is a very real joy for me. I am going to start art journalling in the summer and I look forward to sharing it with you guys. Here's to many more happy hours making paper dolls! (And which outfit is your favourite?)

Saturday, 16 April 2016

SS#7: Gaps and Margins // questions on diversity

Starting Sparks is a link-up aiming to spark your creativity with monthly prompts. For rules, regs, Ts, Cs and all other info, look in the Starting Sparks tab. 

.:
The April prompt. If you'd like to link up (we'd love to have you!), click here for the April post. 
This month I am once more delving into A Room Alone, a novel in its planning stages. It's about four siblings, the Ruskins, from Surrey in the south of England. I've already posted about two of the four: Matthew, the eldest, and Teresa, the second.

Edmund Ruskin is the youngest, aged 15, and this story is about a friend of his. He goes to a boys' boarding school on the south coast of England (apparently I'm unable not to write about the sea). Where exactly it is I've not worked out yet. It's called St Anthony's, so named for the patron saint of travellers, the poor and lost things.

The name Anthony also makes me think of this lovely song by this lovely band, and the song also reminds me of Edmund. You see, everything works together for good.

This story is about a girl called Beatrice.

When A Room Alone was still in its earliest foetal stage, I had a vague idea about a family called the Kiteleys who would maybe spend the summer with the Ruskins. At this point, they have manifested themselves into Mr Kiteley, an English teacher at Edmund's school, his wife and their two daughters. Beatrice, the younger, will become Edmund's best friend. 

I wanted to name her after a character of Shakespeare's because a) her dad is an English teacher and b) Shakespeare = life. Beatrice is the FMC of Much Ado About Nothing, which is a comedy. The play is hilarious and has a brilliant relationship and Beatrice is just an awesome protofeminist. I love that play.

However, I was considering whether Beatrice Kiteley was a bit much. The novel already contains a Teresa Ruskin and a Charlotte Fitzmaurice, and is adding a Beatrice Kiteley to that mix a bit too whimsically English? Or indeed, a bit too white-upper-class?

I've been thinking I could change things up a bit by turning Mr Kiteley into Mr Seth, an Indian man, so that the girls are biracial. Beatrice Seth has a nice ring to it, even if I'd be sad to let go of the Kiteleys. Or maybe I could give her a Jewish European mother (because there hardly ever seem to be Jews in YA. Is it just me who's noticed this?).

But then I was thinking about something else. Matthew's best friend is Yousef, a second gen Pakistani Glaswegian boy. In my head the shadowy figure of a Singaporean girl is emerging as Teresa's friend at uni. As for Felicity (Ruskin #3), the elder Kiteley/whatever daughter goes to her school and they become friends. So if the Kiteleys, or rather Seths, are indeed half Indian, that gives all four MCs an Asian or British Asian best friend, and I'm worried that that feels a) either like I'm trying too hard with the diversity or b) weirdly and unpleasantly colonial, as in white MCs with Asian sidekicks? I've often read complaints that characters of colour are put into books “for diversity's sake", but never get to be the MC themselves. And I don't want to subscribe to that.

But maybe I am over analysing everything?

What do you think? Beatrice Kiteley? Beatrice Seth? Beatrice it-doesn't-matter-because-she's-not-defined-by-the-colour-of-her-skin? I kind of feel awful that I've just written so many paragraphs about race, because a) the diverse books campaign should not make writers feel pressured/anxious about their characters of colour, and b) surely the whole point is to break down racial barriers, rather than focus on them? But it is important and I would value some second opinions. 

Now maybe I could actually get on with the story. Beatrice is pronounced BEE-ah-tris.

~***~

There is immeasurably more left inside than what comes out in words. 
~ Fyodor Dostoevsky


She existed in three places.

The first was in the margin, the blank border of each page. The negative space in a book: breathing room, respite for the reader’s eye, keeping the text from falling off the edge. To Beatrice, the cliffs outside St Anthony’s were a margin of sorts. On them the wind purged the trees and the scrub grass and whomever walked through it. The trees leaned backwards, stunted by centuries of squalls, and the sea threw itself against the cliff with reckless courage, a lover, take me, take me. The lines of grass and branch and rock were wild and unshackled, the greys and greens stretched out against the steel-coloured ocean. On the clifftop a walker became insignificant, surrendering to the blast, vanishing into the margin. It was Beatrice’s favourite place.

The sea itself was a creature of legend that laughed and roared from its depths, a blue void of joy and chaos. It became the blood that pounded in Beatrice’s ears, calling to her, a benediction of salt. This was the tipping point, the place where words ran into themselves and died on the rocks. The cliffs were the margin that protected the land from the sea. When Beatrice faced the ocean, the land behind her rolled off in regulated fields, hedgerows and trees and telephone wire. The clifftop was the place where country and ocean met in a burst of wild orchestral sound.

Then there are the spaces between the lines themselves. Here too Beatrice dwelt, in the gaps and the pauses and the things people didn’t say. She was always fascinated by the unsaids of books, the truths and suggestions that the writer withheld. Beatrice lived in the page itself, moving amongst nouns and verbs and adjectives. Within St Anthony’s’ halls she navigated these lines, slipping in and out of silences. Sometimes Beatrice felt she was a ghost, the patron saint of the unseen and the unspoken.

She had lived at St Anthony’s almost all her life. Her father was an English teacher, and she and her mother and her sister lived in a small house on the school grounds. Beatrice had grown up running on the clifftops, an Enid Blighton childhood, ice creams in the summer and a dinghy in the bay and the nights velvet black and huge with stars. Her memories smelt of salt and cut grass and bread baking, laughing with her sisters, everything bathed in yellow light. She went to primary school in the village nearby, and now those years seemed a long procession of daisy chains and skipping over the cliffs in warm weather. The age of twelve came with a trunk packed and a new phone bought and a train to join her sister at her school in Surrey. A disastrous term of cold hallways and loneliness and sobbing late at night, and then her return to St Anthony’s and her parents. Now Beatrice’s mother taught her at their kitchen table, to a soundtrack of laughter and old jazz and the kettle boiling for cups of tea. She had gone into the world and the world had sickened and scared her. The sea was her home and she read and was happy.

Her mother could not teach her everything, and Beatrice ventured into St Anthony’s itself for some lessons. Here she felt invisible. It was a boys’ school, rugby and cricket and jam roly-poly; it felt like a Roald Dahl novel, a perfect fossil from the twentieth century. When her parents first suggested she join classes Beatrice was terrified, the noises making her jump, the boys a seething mass of shouts and testosterone. They were young teenagers, amazed to find a girl in their presence, brimming with the adolescent mix of lewdness and naivety that renders itself absurd. But the act of disappearing, of folding into the gaps between the lines, had always been Beatrice’s talent. She was like a fairytale girl with a magic vanishing spell, and soon the boys of St Anthony’s grew used to her presence and forgot her. She became the watcher, unobserved; the keeper of those unsaids lying between the lines and phrases.

The last place was the words. The words were the magic, black symbols rearranged again and again to create thought and feeling and truth. In the years alone with her books whispers and sounds floated to Beatrice’s ears, slivers of consciousness translated across centuries and seas for her and her alone. It was as if a voice stretched from the page to greet her, a hand reaching out to take hers. Beatrice felt herself a fragment in a vast creature of words, a breathing being that spanned thousands of languages and years, an ocean of thinking. These were the words, the words that Beatrice devoured alone in her yellow room, the words that patterned her thoughts and her heart, speaking inside her. The margins, gaps and words wove together, each needing the others, and Beatrice dwelt among them, a girl of books and ghosts and the sea. 

~***~

Monday, 11 April 2016

The End

All good things must come to an end, as they say, and recently I've been wondering how much of a place blogging still has in my life. I've learnt so much about books, writing and myself over the years, and met some truly wonderful people. I'll always be grateful to you guys for this time in my life, but I think now is the time to say: this is the end. 

Thank you and goodbye.

I'm kidding!


Ha, you are not going to get rid of me that easily.

But I have been thinking about endings, and I couldn't resist.

So, before I delight you all with more of my top-range humour (ha), I may try and actually come to the point.

Recently I've been considering series' endings. Last month (or something) I read Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. This is the last book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians cycle, and it confirmed a nagging suspicion I've had for years: ending series is really, really hard.

This is a bit of a secret, because (I don't think this is just me?) I find it hard to criticise the books I love. I feel the need to stand up for Harry Potter in every circumstance. When almost none of my friends have read Skulduggery Pleasant, I must PROCLAIM IT as the BEST BOOK EVER (as you know I do, frequently). If people are scared about tackling The Lord of the Rings, it's not great for me to admit that I got slightly bogged down in The Fellowship of the Ring. Basically, I try to fly the flag for my faves (check that alliteration) at all times.

And yet, I so often feel let down by series' endings. Why is this?

1. Can't Stand the Hype

You know when you're waiting for a book to come out, and you and everyone is like

Entire blogosphere about The Raven King, currently.
This is a fairly obvious reason, but when you've hyped yourself up so much, often your expectations outrun the book itself. This normally isn't the book's fault! It's just the tension! But the wait can lead you to so much excitement that the book falls short. This is why part of me hates reading series when they come out. Part of me loves it, because it means I'm actually current, and I love the feeling of community that will occur, for example, in May, when we're all discussing The Raven King. But it can lead to disappointment. I totally did this with The Hunger Games series. Truthfully, I don't think Mockingjay is a very good book anyway, but it was made worse by my excitement for it, my saving it for the perfect time and getting really keyed up. 

2. The Epic Battle


This is the biggest reason for me. A series has been building for three or four or seven or nine books, and it's all got to come to a climax. There have probably been encounters with the villain beforehand, and the hero has probably won small victories, but the villain is not really defeated; they are saving their strength for, as it were, The Last Battle. And I just never feel that the Epic Battle is epic enough.

This is especially prevalent in fantasy series, for example Harry Potter, Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, the Icemark trilogy, but it's also there in series such as The Hunger Games and Divergent. In those cases, Katniss and Tris are defeating the system/government more than one evil Dark Lord. Nonetheless, they must always reach a crisis point, and for me it never lives up to the tension. Of course, the author always kills one or two of the best characters (if you go through that list I gave you'll see what I mean) to show the horrible pain of the final war, and yet I always feel that the villain is too easily defeated. Of course, the writer can't spend chapters and chapters detailing the last struggle. But when it's been building for seven books, one chapter of fighting never seems quite enough. I don't know if there's a way to fix this. I kind of doubt it.

3. The Predictably Unpredictable

I have no idea what this is from but I kind of love it.
This is a very common, in fact, inevitable, Endings Trope. Basically, the hero has to be weaker than the villain. Of course the hobbits aren't a match for Sauron. Of course Voldemort is better at magic than Harry. Of course the White Witch could turn the Pensevies to stone. Of course Percy can't stand up to Kronos' power. If it was a straight-up test of strength, and the hero could win, you wouldn't need seven books to defeat the villain.

The reason we root for heroes is because they're underdogs; because they screw up and get scared and sometimes feel they can't go on. On the surface, the villain is always stronger. Therefore, there always needs to be A Twist.

Typically, the villain, in their thirst for power, has overlooked love/kindness/morality/some other virtue. There are a few ways the author finds to exploit this:
~ the power of love/selflessness/whatever that the hero had inside themselves all along is enough
~ the villain realises their wickedness, and we realise they are the way they are because of their tragic backstory. At the last they see their dead lover's/sister's/goldfish's face floating above them and decide not to go through with their evil plan
~ the villain's disillusioned servant/sidekick realises the evil isn't worth it and conveniently kills the villain so the hero doesn't have to

There's almost always a twist of this nature, and the unpredictable, therefore, becomes predictable. We know that Hero isn't going to straight up stab/shoot/banish Villain. There has to be a bit of extra, and I feel like I'm always expecting it.

4. The Clean-Up


Catharsis is absolutely necessary. Very very few books can pull off ending that finishes right on the lowest low. You never end with the hero at last sinking a knife into villain. You show some of the consequences. You show the hero's exhaustion, their grief at the loss of those who've died. You also show the world beginning to come right again. Consider the last Harry Potter; we get the aftermath of the battle, and then the famous epilogue.

The reader needs this! When we are in shock, the post-battle end-y bit (professional literary term, that) is the blanket we require. And some writers do it so, so well. But it can sometimes lead to a sense of anticlimax. I have to say, I found the return to Hobbiton a bit ... meh. And I guess that's kind of the point: that real life isn't all epic struggles and mortal combat and heroically throwing away the Ring. It's also home life and domesticity and the smallness (physically demonstrated by the hobbits) of the day to day. This is important! But I think it's really hard to balance this with the Final Battle.

What do you think? I really don't want you to read this as a post slating the endings of my favourite series, because it isn't! I think that LotR, Narnia and Harry Potter are all nearly perfect, and I'm not bothered about finishing Percy Jackson and the Olympians, because it's only the first of a pair of series, so it's not the end at all, really. But do you agree with me that series' endings can be problematic? (And more importantly, are you panicking about The Raven King?)

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

DEMON ROAD // author hangovers, gender dynamics and character loyalty.

I rarely buy books when they come out. Hardbacks are expensive, and I normally prefer to wait and find the book secondhand. Also, I'm very rarely reading a series as it's coming out, so I don't often have the agony of waiting. When a book comes out that I want, I normally wait a few months, visiting it in Waterstone's every now and then, and eventually fork out for it.

This was not the case with Demon Road.

After the end of Skulduggery I was bereft, and I could not wait for Derek Landy's new series. I bought Demon Road, in hardback, for an extortionate sum of money, on release date. 

I then didn't read it for six months.

Author hangovers: I've talked about them before. It's when you love a book/series so much that you're terrified to read the author's other work, just in case it's not as good, because then you have to accept that the author is not the Perfect Ruler of All as you thought they were. It's why I took so long to read The Cuckoo's Calling (JK Rowling) or Wolves of Mercy Fall (Maggie Stiefvater), because could anything be as good as Harry Potter or The Raven Cycle?! In both those cases, I was not disappointed, but I still kinda procrastinated reading Demon Road.


Twelve hours before Amber Lamont's parents tried to kill her, she was sitting between them in the principal's office, her hands in her lap, stifling all the things she wanted to say.


16-year-old Amber has never felt at ease with her cold, beautiful, otherworldly parents. Unhappy with her real life, she escapes online to her favourite fandom and the friends who don't judge her on her appearance. But her relationship with her parents is about to reach a new and terrifying level ...


So, it's no secret how much I love Skulduggery Pleasant, Landy's nine book urban fantasy series. Heck, my blog url is a Skulduggery reference. He is my top #2 ever fictional crush. I ... need a minute.

I was afraid of disappointment in Demon Road, and initially, I was disappointed.




~ First things first, it's less my genre. Urban fantasy is one of my absolute favourites, but this is paranormal/horror, and I'm not so into that scene. In Skulduggery the characters are mages and there is all sorts of awesome magic, but demons I'm not so keen on. Also, anything that takes Biblical ideas and twists them makes me squint a bit.

~ I prefer the Irishness of Skulduggery. This might be a stupid reason. I know that if you're writing a book about a road trip, setting it in the British Isles is not wholly feasible; America is the obvious choice. But, uh, I just like the Irish characters more. Glen from Demon Road is Irish, which is nice. Landy couldn't resist, clearly.

~ Let's discuss the characters.

I made a handy infographic to illustrate what I'm talking about.

There are some differences! For one thing, Amber is far less arrogant and annoying than Valkyrie. In Valkyrie, Landy gives us a fairly typical beautiful, confident teen heroine. One of the themes of Demon Road is perceptions of beauty, and Amber doesn't fulfill societal norms of beauty, which I really liked. But ultimately, they are fairly similar characters. Milo, meanwhile, is not as loud/brash as Skulduggery, but they are basically the same. And Glen could be Fletcher with a different name.

I was thinking about gender dynamics and why Landy chose to go for a teen FMC and a middle aged MMC once again. I think it is extremely cool that he flies the flag for YA heroines. The Skulduggery Pleasant books are marketed for boys, with their covers, and the title makes you think he's the MC, but Valkyrie is the POV character, and I love that Landy doesn't bow to the pressure to write “boys' books" with teen boy heroes. Obviously I'm not saying we don't have enough girls in YA, because we have squillions, but they are almost all in books that are either romance-based or feature romance. There's nothing wrong with romance, but the sort of Harry Potter / Artemis Fowl / Percy Jackson / Jamie Carpenter / Otto Malpense / James Adams / Thomas from The Maze Runner action hero doesn't have many female counterparts. So thank you, Derek, you absolute babe.

However, just because the MC is a girl, why go for the Skulduggery/Milo figure twice? I suppose the obvious answer is that he is a middle-aged man and we all quite like to write about ourselves in various manifestations, but still, it's an interesting question.

Now, can we talk about character loyalty?

I have undying loyalty to the Skulduggery characters. As already mentioned in this post (and many others) Skulduggery himself is my air, and whilst Valkyrie can be v annoying, THEY ARE THE BEST FRIENDS OF EVER AND MY PLATONIC OTP. *ahem*

Me to Skulduggery.
So when I saw very similar characters Amber and Milo having banter / sassing each other, like Skulduggery and Valkyrie do, it made me quite jealous?
[Milo:] “We all go through tough times."
[Amber:] “My parents are trying to kill me."
[Milo:] “We all have issues."
Does anyone relate to this?! Maybe I'm just weird (I mean, I am just weird. We know that.). But Landy has such a distinctive funny style, and when I read his humour not being used by the Skulduggery characters, I think it just made me really nostalgic to read about them. This meant they were in my head my whole time, and by comparison Amber and Milo came out unfavourably. 

This is not to say I didn't like Demon Road, because I did! It was quite magnificent, in the end, and I gave it four stars! 

For one thing, the character thing kind of went away as the book went on. The infographic, I know, makes out that both books have central trios, but actually only Demon Road has a central trio. Skulduggery has a whole raft of awesome characters, and Glen isn't that major. So whilst Skulduggery is all about the relationship between him and Valkryie, Demon Road focusses more on Glen and Amber's relationship, which was different, and I liked it.

The action scenes were A++. Landy is a king. 

I do really love Amber. I was rooting for her.  And her fandom! And I love that Landy actually knows how people talk in online forums and what fandoms are like and how important gifs are and the relationships people have with their online friends. Sometimes “texting" in books makes me cringe so much, when it's written by adults who don't know how teenagers speak, but the fandom chat in Demon Road was perfect. I love characters who love books.

All in all, nothing can replace Skulduggery in my heart, but I really liked this book and cannot wait to read Desolation, which comes out tomorrow!

~***~

Do you get author hangovers? And can you relate to my character loyalty problems? Also, have you read Demon Road? 

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Starting Sparks: April

This is late, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. 

You know when you work really hard / get really stressed / DO ALL THE THINGS, and you end up absolutely Chinese lacquered?*
*my current fave expression

Well, that was my week, but I finally finished school yesterday! --


-- and I am so relieved and happy. When I eventually left at 4 yesterday (class finished at 11.30 but I was there till the bitter end finishing off) I was basically dancing.

This was me.
I walked to my friend's house in the rain, my heart singing with freedom. It was all very poetic.* Then we ate pizza and watched live action Cinderella and discussed our WIPs (always very important) and-- yeah, it was a good evening. 
*Actually it was just damp but we'll go with poetic.

Starting Sparks is a monthly link-up in which Ashley and I post a prompt to spark your creativity. (Ha, you see, you see what I did there? You know, guys, I don't just sit here looking pretty ...)  

If you want more information, nip up to the Starting Sparks tab.

.:
This is the April prompt.

Starting Sparks last month was not a roaring success (in that only Ashley and I linked up, which hasn't happened since we began in October!). This was probably because I chose the prompt wholly to fit my own characters (and even that didn't work too well because hardly anyone read the story), ergo, I should be fired and Ashley should just be in charge.

This month's prompt is a bit broader, I think. My mind immediately jumped to Edmund Ruskin. How do you feel about another Ruskins post? Are you interested in this book, or do you wish I would shut the heck up about it?

To be honest, I should probably try to write something different, I think, which brings me onto my next news: I finished third drafting on Thursday night! I'm now on a six week break before I start the fourth (and probably final) draft. It is a weird feeling, to have been writing a book and now to be ... not writing a book. But more on this another time.

Have a lovely weekend.