books

a most irregular prophecy – it’s out

I was therefore forced to draw the only possible conclusion; I was going to be heinously murdered.

A MOST IRREGULAR PROPHECY

It started as a short story and it’s now a full-length book with a dope front cover and words and everything. If you fancy a bit of a barmy read with a Victorian, a reluctant Scribe, Unicorn-type-creatures, Portals, Propaganda, and a touch of romance? It’s here! It’s actually here!

It’s ready in paperback and ebook. (I’m particularly proud of the back cover. It has pamphlets and a hot air balloon.) Ahem. Anyway. This is a book. A book I wrote.

My feelings are the below – from this post:

But oh – if it’s a tiny bit beautiful, if it’s a little funny, if it’s moving, if it’s a wondrous adventure, if it makes you see a glimmer of something you can’t quite name, or startles you into a laugh; if it’s something that I can be pleased with then, I would like to share it with you.

this book falls into ‘startles you into a laugh’ i think. whether that be good or bad, i’m not sure

If it’s not your cup of tea – that’s perfectly fine. If you read it and have a strong opinion (positive or negative! either is alright!) do scribble a review. Or don’t. This is a free country.

Either way, please join me in being excessively gleeful that – after six years of silence – a full-length book has finally been completed. I’m so very glad to share this one with you.

ness rambles, ness talks about life

things, they be happening

I don’t know if this is a me thing or if this is an everybody thing but- say it’s a Saturday and I’ve got a friend coming at 2 o’clock – can I be productive in the hours leading up to the Fateful Meeting? Do I get things done? Do I fill every minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run? Do I not only seize the day, but seize the hour! The minute! The second!

Ha.

Hahahahahahaha.

No. The answer is no. I browse the internet. I surf. I dawdle. I while away the hours, my brain consumed with the upcoming time when Things Will Happen. I am incapacitated. I am held in stasis. I cannot function.

In short, I have Something Happening that day and nothing else will happen until that something has happened.

I suppose the answer is a change of mindset. Being aware of the problem is surely half way to solving it, isn’t it? Anyway, I digress:

On the subject of Things Happening …

THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED:

  • I walked some of Hadrian’s Wall. It was a perfect hoot. I am now a weathered outdoorswoman.
Artist’s impression of me, weathered outdoorswoman / Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com
  • I slept in a tent for three nights and let me tell you, I was a Princess and the entire ground was made of peas that first night. I tossed and turned and was as anxious as a YA heroine caught up in love triangle.
  • Nebuchadnezzar AKA the guppy whose name I could never spell – is dead. Deceased. No more. It’s pretty horrible and I’m quite upset. Also: I can’t find his body.
  • I have the proofs for a Most Irregular Prophecy and have held my book child in my hands.

THINGS HAPPENING SOON:

  • A Suffragist Abroad AKA A Most Irregular Prophecy is having a cover reveal and POSSIBLY A RELEASE DATE??? (I AM EXCITEMENT) (I always have to double check that spelling as I live in horror and dread of accidentally writing: ‘I am excrement’)
  • Our Intrepid Heroine is having a facelift AKA a cover reveal.
i just like this gif
  • I’m going through some personal life changes which are … exciting and yet also terrifying.
  • An existential post-quarter-life-crisis will probably loom. (Pop that in your diary.)
  • But mainly: bookish things should be happening
  • I’ve ordered a new pair of reading glasses

happy reading!

ness talks about life

nature an’ stuff: the books i read on holiday

We didn’t go on holiday in 2020 and we made up for it this year. I’d looked forward to this break with all the anticipation of a thirst-ridden explorer stumbling upon an oasis in a parched desert. (Not that I’ve experienced that. But if I had have done, I’m sure the metaphor would hold.)

blurry picture of said books and very tidily folded clothes *cough*

I packed light for this trip. I brought just the one bag and that had clothes, laptop, flip-flops, and books in it. (This is saying a lot – in the past, when I’d stay at a friend’s overnight I’d bring multiple bags and a mound of blankets too. Character growth, you say? Yes. Yes, indeed.)

BOOKS AN’ STUFF

I took Steinbeck’s East of Eden – but stalled with the reading. It was going all very well but then a dastardly character was introduced and I wasn’t sure I could continue as the realm of fiction prohibits reaching into a story and punching someone soundly on the nose.

Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution by Ruth Scrurr was finally finished, proving that I can be a reasonably literate adult and still find three hundred ways to spell his name incorrectly. At least I’m not calling him Ropespierre anymore.

Next up on the French Revolution front is none other than a reread of The Scarlet Pimpernel. (Be still my beating heart!)

Guards, Guards by Terry Pratchett felt like a guilty pleasure – it was so very much my humour that I was astonished that it was there, in print! (An odd way of putting it, I know – but it’s the only one that makes sense.)

rowing wasn’t oar-ful. hahahahahahaha. i’m so sorry.

I also did another reread of The Goblin Emperor and felt quite ready to reread it all over again once I’d finished it. That’s the mark of a particular kind of favourite – isn’t it? The one that you can read over and over again; that still have, as a bookmark, the note from three years ago when your mum sent it over the ocean to you so that you could be in a foreign country but in a familiar book.

(WHAT a sentence. Someone inform the Pulitzer Prize Board. Ding ding ding! We have a winner on our hands!)

I also brought some Keats with me for culture. I opened my Keats. I looked at my Keats. I closed my Keats. I humbly slid it back on its shelf. Total perusal time was probably three minutes. Or less. Much less. That is all that I’m going to say on that subject.

WAXIN’ LYRICAL ‘BOUT NATURE

nature an’ stuff

I woke up early one morning and stood on the shore – the sun had slid up the horizon, bright and glowing, and the water was still as mirror glass with swathes of golden mist curling low over patches of it.

There was a bluebell wood tucked away behind it all, a carpet of ethereal blue on the ground. The air rang with bird song and was rich with flower-scent.

This sort of thing makes you forget – just for a moment – how turbulent things are in this world of ours. It reminds you that life is worth living. It makes it feel rich and impossibly, endlessly, interesting.

MORE WORDS ABOUT OTHER WORDS

On the writing front, A Suffragist Abroad is inching ever closer to being published (more on that very soon) Our Intrepid Heroine has her new front cover finalised, and Project If is in the process of being pulled apart and put back together again. I’m excited – hoping that soon, soon, they’ll be completely complete and ready to share with you.

Happy reading!

books, ness rambles, ness talks about life

i am a metaphor queen, and other interesting factoids

Let me tell you about Spring – it’s brilliant. Bloomin’ brilliant. It feels like I’ve stirred awake and blinked away a soul-hibernation. (Though, you know what? I think I need to have an internet dive on hibernation. Mainly, I equate it with bears but I’d like to know the dynamics of it.)

Our lockdown is lifting – it hasn’t fully lifted yet, and there could still always be another (perish the thought!) But yesterday I went to the zoo and watched orangutans doing roly-polys and a tiger pacing in its pen.

A few weeks prior found me whizzing round country lanes and breath-taking views of a world overflowing with greens and golds and rugged red-browns.

It’s quite shocking, really – the way you can allow your world to narrow. You see, I’m always fond of saying see the extraordinary in the ordinary or look for the everyday adventures (which to be fair, when typed out, seems terribly trite but sue me, this is my blog – I can be cliché if I want to) but sometimes I forget to.

I forget to look for the good, for the quiet joys, for the adventures.

I forget, and the world feels bleaker for it. Like a grey sky is staring oppressively down at you and the future is just one long trudge of complicated paperwork and taxes and missing socks.

It’s easy to be reactive. To let inertia settle in your bones. Stagnation … heck I don’t know, to fester in your soul. It’s harder to be proactive. Or rather, it is easy to forget that we have choices, that we have free will, that we aren’t leaves on the stream of life just drifting down-

Okay. I’m sorry. It’s been awhile since I last blogged but have my metaphors always been like this? Because a) holy cow what the heck am I a poet or what and ii) ?????!!!!!!!!!!!! and 3) I don’t know whether to be ashamed or immensely proud of it.

(Both. I’ll take both.)

My point is – and I do have a point – is that we always have a choice. We can choose how we act. We can’t control others or, for example, the weather but we can choose to be kind. We can choose to wear a raincoat if the sky is looks threatening. (And to jump in a puddle if there’s no one around. Because come on – you know you want to. Shoes dry but joy stays.)

I’m attempting to choose better. I’m not always successful, but like a moth always ceaselessly fluttering towards the light of life- alright, I’ll stop with the metaphors.

A Suffragist Abroad has been renamed to A Most Irregular Prophecy – and it’s odd how unconsciously a thread of this sort of thought has seeped through into the book. Though I didn’t compare the main character to a moth.

… mainly because didn’t occur to me at the time of writing, but I suppose there’s always the next book?

happy reading / keep going … like a moth

ness rambles, ness talks about life

snail mail and pen pals – letter writing for beginners

When I was a mere youngling, I wrote letters. My spelling was frequently off and my efforts could be optimistically termed as ‘mildly dismal’ but I knew all my pen-pals’ favourite colours and I enjoyed receiving the responses and writing mine after a long interval. (Procrastination has ever been a companion of mine.) (Unfortunately.)

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

I am now older, with grey hair and a back. (The grey hair was an expensive choice and the back is seeming to still function. I just wanted to mention that I had one. You probably have one too.) And in late-ish 2020, thanks to a friend who also thought it was a Good Idea, I plunged back into the world of letter writing.

My efforts could still improve, my spelling is as off as milk left in the Sahara desert for three months, and my handwriting takes inspiration from a beheaded and drunken chicken’s fevered scratchings.

(Sometimes it looks nice. Sometimes.)

And yet there’s nothing quite like receiving a letter in the mail – something that isn’t an advertisement, a bill, something from the bank, or a parcel that you paid for. No – this is for you. A piece of tangible snug cosiness formed of ink and paper, waiting for you to sit down with a cup of tea so that it can share its contents with you.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Here are some things that I’ve learned along the way:

MAKE A HABIT OF IT

My friend and I determined that for the month of December, we would write a letter a week to each other. And I really must say – making it a discipline to write regularly helped.

And it didn’t quite stop there. I realised that not only did I want to write to my friend, but I also wanted to write letters to other friends and family members. They have now been inflicted gifted with many, many letters. (I haven’t sent one to the Queen just yet but I can feel one coming.) (I should clarify that I’m not related to her.) (That I know of.) (The chances are sub-zero.) (Yes, that is a thing.)

BE CREATIVE

Writing letters is as little or as much as you make of it. The heart is always the actual letter. However, you can also do some lovely window dressing. I looked at Pinterest and my word! There’s an entire world of letter writing. There are YouTube channels dedicated to the art of the PenPal. They layer up paper and stickers and stamps and drawings like an English person does clothes in a Canadian winter.

I love it. It’s insane and I am bewildered by it all but I love it.

I’m not touching calligraphy (see aforementioned description of my handwriting) but I can buy stickers! I can buy washi tape (or as I incorrectly called it: wasabi tape. The two are not the same, fyi)! It’s been a slow descent into madness but I have a basket of supplies. It’s enormous fun and quite relaxing to let my dubious creativity loose on paper and envelope. And then I seal it with a wax seal and oh my gosh in that moment I’m either a) Roman emperor completing a death warrant or b) an Austen heroine there is no in-between.

WRITE

Writing letters is a way to time travel (a letter! sent last week! A voice from the past!) – in our world of instant instantness (just bear with me here) it’s delightful to send and receive something that isn’t saved on a cloud somewhere, but something that you can take out, hold and reread. (Or, for those receiving a letter from me: squint at my handwriting and ask ‘is that an ‘a’ or an ‘e’, why is that ‘i’ there and what on earth is she saying?) It’s a lovely way of connection – especially now, when it’s so difficult and many of us cannot meet with the ones we love.

It might be difficult, when faced with a blank page, to work out what to write. But have no fear! You can fill it with so many things:

  • interesting questions (contingency plans if zombies should attack … ohhh I haven’t used that one yet!)
  • descriptions of books you’re reading/media you’ve enjoyed
  • adventures you have had/would like to have
  • what you ate for breakfast
  • opinions on the weather (… it’s practically a law, I think)
  • mutual interests/memories
  • rants/ravings
  • quotes/interesting snatchings of poetry
  • music suggestions
  • etc etc etc

So, if you are pondering letter writing – enjoy it! Go for it! Take the plunge! Find someone to exchange letters with. (And be bitter with me about the way that there isn’t spellcheck for writing letters by hand.) (And lament when the Royal Mail somehow mislays a letter EVEN WHEN IT’S ONLY GOING TO A CITY FORTY-FIVE MINUTES AWAY.) (I love them really. Also: what a shame, I’ll just have to write another letter.)

By the by, what is your favourite colour? And have I overused brackets in this post? (No.) (If anything I underused them.)