NaNoWriMo 2017: Memories from my Future

A few years ago I entered a science fiction and fantasy short story competition and won.  It was an incredible feeling to be acknowledged for my creativity (this was pre- Wandering Words), and the story was something I shelved, hoping to come back to some day.

And that day is finally here!  I’ve chosen Memories from my Future to rewrite for NaNoWriMo – that’s right, I’m being a NaNo Rebel again.

For those who have forgotten my rebellious ways last year, a NaNo Rebel is:

a NaNoWriMo participant who chooses to write something besides a novel of at least 50,000 words.

So, what’s Memories from my Future all about?

Plugged into the prophetic machine known as FATE, Harriet Finlake is finally able to see her future, a flash of colour and sound that will show her a glimpse of her life to come.

But what if the future is not what she expected?

What if FATE shows her a glimpse of something else? Something dark and mysterious and terrifying… and the clock is already counting down the hours until it arrives.

My idea always worked best as a short story, and I’m hoping to spruce it up a little into a novella.  The title also worked three years ago, but I might give that a makeover too.  What will be interesting is that I wrote this originally with no regard at all for the science behind the machine.  I wonder how current me will tackle these issues – I’m certainly more meticulous about details in my old age.  We’ll see – I have 30 days to figure it out!  Wish me luck!

Who else is participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

Emma

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October 23, 2017
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A Peek Inside My Sketchbook

A Peek Inside My Sketchbook

I’ve recently joined The Sketchbook Project 2018, where creative types fill a sketchbook and send it to Brooklyn Art Library to be a part of their permanent collection.  With my sketchbook on the way – I’ll be sure to do a full post on this when it arrives, as I’m so excited – I’ve decided to show you all a peek inside my current sketchbook.

My favourite mediums are ink and watercolour, but I’d love to expand my knowledge and dabble in more mixed media.  My biggest inspiration at the moment is my sister, whose art portfolio is filled to the brim with just about everything and anything you can imagine.

Sketchbook

I love to splash paint about and make a mess.  Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes (all the time) I smudge the paint before it dries.

Sketchbook

I love art with a Gothic influence, and had the idea of doing a set of postcards celebrating Gothic literature.  The design below was the first I did with this series in mind, which ended up being digitially enhanced and made into a birthday card for a book-loving friend.  However, I always preferred the shadowing in the original, even if the lettering is too close to the edge of the page.

Sketchbook

What’s inside your sketchbook?  I’d love to see!

Emma

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October 21, 2017
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Scythe

Scythe

Today I played one of my new favourite Board games – Scythe.  It is an expensive game that I could only ever dream of owning, with hundreds of pieces, including figurines and little wooden buildings.  Aesthetically, it is board game heaven.

Reminiscent of PC strategy games like Civilization and Age of Empires, you can play much of the game without any real combat at all.  Collecting resources, upgrading features and placing buildings are just as important.  When combat does occur (a business conducted by faction leaders and mechs), it isn’t to ferociously wipe pieces off the board – combat is frequently over the ownership of tiles and resources, and is only beneficial from a strategic perspective, as the stakes can be high.

Scythe

Despite having a lot of pieces, it isn’t an overly complicated game.  The part that requires the most thought is deciding which actions to take each turn.  Players have a choice between moving pieces, trading resources, producing resources and bolstering their army.  However, it is against the rules to use the same action twice in a row, which means having to plan ahead sometimes half a dozen actions in advance, with clear goals in mind.

The game ends when six achievements have been met – but when this occurs needs to be carefully calculated, as the first player to six stars doesn’t necessarily mean a victory for them.  Scores are calculated in the end by how much money a player has.  The number of tiles held, resources owned and achievements met are converted into coins at the end, contributing towards that final score.

In today’s game (my second time playing), I had 52 points by the end, but my friend, the current reigning champion of all board games in our social group, beat me with 56.  A close call, though our scores are far lower than the apparent ‘typical winning fortune’ stated in the rulebook – oops?

Have you ever played Scythe before?  Any favourite board games you can recommend to a Scythe fan?

Emma

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October 20, 2017
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British Holiday

Let me tell you

how to have

a British holiday.

It should rain

every day.

Forget your umbrella

though,

and leave the car window

open overnight,

so the pages of the map

stick together.

Maybe the sun

will appear

for a moment or two.

That’s your cue

to don the shorts,

flip-flops,

sunglasses,

before it gets

swallowed again

by grey.

That’s when you

return to your

newspaper

in your damp

holiday cottage,

and listen to the

drip, drip, drip

of the leaking tap

and the rain.


But British holidays are still the best kind of holidays.

Emma

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October 19, 2017
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How To Be a Woman

How To Be a Woman

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository

How is it possible that I’ve only just discovered Caitlin Moran?  I feel like a whole new world of woman has opened up to me after reading her memoir, How To Be a Woman.  I’ve dabbled in feminist literature before – The Forbidden Body by Shelley Bovey was an eye-opener when I read it in my early 20s, and The Vagenda equally so – and so adding another book to my repertoire was long overdue.

How To Be a Woman is a mash of genres – part memoir, part feminist rant.  I loved Moran’s views on current inequalities, and it was refreshing to see someone who shared many of my own opinions.  She also brought up topics that I hadn’t really thought too much about before.  The sections on being a parent and abortion were some of the best in the book – she really touched me with some of the experiences she’d had, and I feel like I’ve been educated on some things I’d never considered before.  She is refreshingly honest about what has happened in her life, which makes this an important read for any young woman.  I was constantly sending quotes from the book to my friends, with her ideas forming excellent points for discussion.

When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear today!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.’

This isn’t to say the book was without flaw.  While some chapters had my feminist blood raging in agreement, my interest did wane around the halfway mark, which is why it took me a couple of months to finish.  I think this is for a number of reasons: firstly, Moran is excited by an era that I am just not engaged by (I don’t know or care for most of the people and music she loves, though this is just a conflict of personal taste), and secondly, I just don’t find her stories of alcohol and drugs very interesting.  Though we share a common goal of female equality, the fact is that I just didn’t find her stories all that extraordinary or engaging – perhaps it is an imbalance between the elements of memoir and feminist thought.  Personally, I was hoping for a little more of the latter.

There’s also a lot of unnecessary CAPITALISATION OF SENTENCES FOR EMPHASIS, and my major pet peeve of way too many exclamation marks in succession:

BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!

All her talk of Lady Gaga, drag queens and over-priced weddings make this book a fascinating and often hilarious read, but some of her jokes just don’t hit the mark, and I know it wouldn’t be to everyone’s tastes.  What I would probably recommend in its stead is the audiobook, which Moran narrates herself – this is how I first started my reading journey, before switching to the book when my library loan ended.  She delivers the text in the way it was certainly intended, and her reading better encapsulates the “chattiness” of her book, without the seeming randomness of thought sometimes found when experiencing it as a lone reader.

However you experience the book though, it will no doubt stir the feminist inside, and make you hungry for equality.  Or in my case, make me realise I’m not alone in thinking that weddings are a waste of money… there’s something for everyone!

Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4/5)

Happy reading!

Emma

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October 15, 2017
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Wednesdays

Wednesdays A Poem

Palm comes crashing

down onto the table

as you thrust your papers

into my face.

“What is this?”

you demand,

spitting in your fury,

mouth frothing.

Yet I’m the one feeling caged

“It’s all wrong,

why is it wrong?”

We stare at each other.

Both red-faced.

Both a little alarmed

by what you do next.

You tear away

from the desk,

like the shreds of paper

you leave behind

for me to clean up.

You roar,

slamming the door,

as you go.

I take a deep breath.

Smile, of course.

Whose next?

“Hi, how can I help?”


Customer service.

Emma

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October 12, 2017
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The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us

I was recently lent The Wolf Among Us series by my other half, possibly in response to my moans that nothing was comparable with Saga.  Although I still stand by that statement, The Wolf Among Us was definitely still something to shout about.

The series is just two books long, based on the Tell Tale game of the same name.  Both were inspired by the original Fable comics, about characters from fairy tales who now live in modern day New York after being forced to leave their old world.

The Wolf Among Us follows Bigby (previously known as the Big Bad Wolf), who has left his past behind and reinvented himself as the sheriff of Fabletown.  When a Fable gets murdered on his watch, Bigby and Snow White team up to find the culprit.  But as they find the situation quickly spiraling out of their control, all the residents of Fabletown are forced to face some home truths about themselves, and about who they used to be.

The plot probably dragged just a little longer than it needed to, with one too many samey fight scenes.  But the number of brilliant characters constantly being introduced truly overrode any real flaws.  I was pleasantly surprised to see faces from Alice in Wonderland and Bloody Mary, as well as so many traditional fairy stories too.  Characters were rarely how I would have imagined them, which kept things unpredictable and fun.  The plot itself was also full of twists and turns, as secrets were slowly revealed.  By the end I had no idea who to trust, and where to place my sympathies.  Villainous characters always had a backstory and something to support their actions, leaving the task of picking a side a wonderful challenge.

I’m desperate to play the game now – I’m waiting (im)patiently for a Steam sale at the moment, as it sits at £18.99 full price.  The game allows the player to make decisions, which affect the outcome of the story – considering the complex themes of justice and morality in the comics, I can only imagine how thrilling the game is to play.  Check out the trailer for the game below:

Happy reading!

Emma

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October 5, 2017
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The New Bohemians

The New Bohemians

If everything goes to plan, I’ll be moving into a new house next year.  It will be an exciting development in my life, and one that I feel should be marked with a shift in lifestyle.  I’ve been working hard this year on self-care, creating a healthier me, with a longing to connect to the world in a more natural, less technological way.  My research led me to bohemianism, a lifestyle that puts greater focus on spirituality and artistic pursuits.  While I can’t say I’ll be taking on a total bohemian existence, I love the bohemian ‘spirit’ and the idea of a freer, more creative approach to life.  So, after discovering the beautiful lifestyle blog Jungalow and being instantly inspired, I swiftly went on to buy The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes, written by the blog’s owner, Justina Blakeney.

The New Bohemians

The book explores different types of bohemian lifestyles – from modern and earthy, to romantic and folksy – by looking at twenty homes.  At the end of each home there is an ‘Adopt an Idea’ section, where the author reveals tips for recreating some of the features in a cheap and easy way.  I was glad for these, as many of the homeowners had design/creative backgrounds, and the means to really mould a space into what they wanted; it was nice to know that quick fixes were available!

The New Bohemians

The quality of the paper is high, though really you’d expect nothing less of a book filled with textiles.  The photographs are fascinating to look at, even though many of the rooms look suspiciously tidy and staged.  I think I would have liked to have seen more spaces that reflected day-to-day living a little more, though I guess I would have hoovered the floor too if I’d known a photographer was coming over… I got the impression that some of the participants were using the opportunity of being featured in the book to self-promote their businesses, which takes away from the whole whimsy feel a bit for me.  Saying that though, I understand that a bohemian lifestyle often blends work and leisure within the same space, so maybe I’m just nitpicking.

The New Bohemians

I’ve never owned a book like this before, and I am so happy with my purchase.  As well as a source of inspiration for my new house, it is also motivating to see people who have been bold enough to take spaces and make them work for their daily lives.

The author’s stunning lifestyle blog is well worth a visit: https://www.jungalow.com/

Emma

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September 29, 2017
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My Week In Photos: Cornwall

Cornwall

I got home from Cornwall at 7.30am on Saturday, bleary-eyed, with my stomach full of nothing but Watsits.  A pretty standard British holiday, if you ask me.  I had flu/allergies/whatever-that-thing-was all week, but still managed to do some wonderful things while I was away…

Cornwall Polperro

We visited Polperro, a gorgeous fishing village that was just down the hill from our accommodation.

Cornwall

Cornwall

We followed the narrow streets round to the Model Village.

Cornwall

We stole a day to revisit Newquay. Parking was still extortionately priced, but we had an amazing fried breakfast and enjoyed lounging on the beach.

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

Bodmin Jail was an interesting afternoon trip. Curiously, I thought it wasn’t quite as atmospheric as I was expecting, but the exhibits were fascinating!

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

Cornwall

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

There was a big blue, terrifying room full of cells, each one housing a different crime. Some were pretty grotesque, and scary… (and this photo is of one of the gentler stories!)

Cornwall

Cornwall

Cornwall Bodmin Jail

Cornwall Reading

It wouldn’t be a holiday without getting in some reading time.

We also did a lot of swimming, eating, board gaming and laughing. And trudging through the rain, of course!

Want to see more Cornwall?  Check out what I got up to last year!

Emma

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September 13, 2017
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Flash Fiction Winner: ‘Game Over’

I’m pleased to share the winning entry of August’s Flash Fiction Competition!  The theme this time was ‘Game Over’, and Jess Larter has been chosen as August’s winner for her short story about a queen at war.

You can read her winning story below:


The Queen has lost count of how many times they have stood here, ready to play war as if they are children about to play a game.

She stares out across the battlefield and observes the army on the other side. It is as if she is looking in a mirror, the other army a reflection of her own except for the colour of their armour. Her soldiers stand in front of her in a neat row, all dressed in the white garb of their kingdom. They are restless and eager to fight; ready to sacrifice their lives for the crown, for her. It’s likely they will do just that.

One of them takes a tentative step forward and his reflection does the same. Within seconds the playing field becomes a thunderstorm of black and white as more troops from both sides rush into the fray. The Queen doesn’t hesitate to join them.

After what feels to her like hours, she is finally able to stop and catch her breath. When her eyes find the King, his white armour a beacon gleaming in the sunshine, she is surprised to see she is not the only one eyeing him. A Knight clad in black armour sits atop her horse, a shadow ready to charge. The shadow waits just a second longer then spurs the horse forward.

She is almost upon the King when he finally hears her racing up behind him. He only has the time to take a single step to the right and out of the reach of her sword. At least this time it will not be that sword that deals him the killing blow. Or perhaps this time he won’t be dealt any fatal blow and instead it will be the King in the black cloak who dies.

It is a hopeful thought, but a fleeting one. Both the King and Queen realise too late that the Knight was intended to be a distraction so that other enemies could surround him. He frantically searches for a way to escape; the Queen resigns herself to the fact that there isn’t one.

Every other player on the field pauses their fighting to watch the situation unfold. Silence falls as they hold a collective breath, waiting to see what happens next although they already know what will. It won’t be long now before they are tidily arranged back on their own sides of the battleground, about to repeat this all again. There is comfort in the inevitability.

A single word booms out above their heads, louder than cannon fire. The absence of the sounds of war makes it even more startling.

“Checkmate.”

In the end, it isn’t clear which foe is the one responsible, but the result is the same.

The Queen watches. The white King falls.

Game over.

The Queen has lost count of how many times they have stood here, ready to play war as if they are children about to play a game.


Congratulations to Jess for winning!  The Flash Fiction Competition is returning on Friday 1st December 2017.  Check the Flash Fiction page for more information.

Emma

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September 12, 2017
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