Between the Pages

Believe it or not, I’ve not read that many books this year. It might not seem like a wildly shocking fact, but I used to read a book a week – sometimes two, if the mood struck. It’s not that I don’t have loads of books to read, it’s that I have a tendency to get a bit too attached to my 3DS or a show on Netflix. That’s the thing – with so much media to consume out there, when do I have time to do it? Something’s got to take a back seat, and sadly, it’s been books for most of this year.
 
However, with the weather getting colder, and the fact that I’d not joined the library service in this county yet weighing on my shoulders, I decided to pop up there and grab some books. I’ve now read more books in a month than I think I’ve read in about a year, which is great! Here are a few I’ve really enjoyed so far…
 
Barbara Hambly – Those Who Hunt the Night
 
God, I love vampires. I especially love vampire books with really 80s covers.
 
hambly
 
Set in Edwardian London, this is a mystery novel worthy of Conan Doyle, but with creatures that skulk in the darkness and a hero that rides an early Norton motorcycle. It’s not a huge book, but it’s gripping – I finished it off in just over a week. Although its main character is a human – the unlikely warrior James Asher, don at Oxford University with a secret past – the vivid nature in which the vampires are portrayed, particularly the dashing Don Simon Ysidro, won me over. Ysidro is a total babe.
 
Warren Ellis and Phil Jimenez – X-Men: Exogenetic
 
I’m a comic person too (Marvel pls), but I don’t have time to keep up with single issues, so I usually grab a few trade paperbacks when I can. Exogenetic, set in the events following M-Day, sees seemingly dead mutants revived with Sentinels lurking within their hollow husks of a body. It pits the X-Men against some of their biggest enemies, all at the hands of one particularly evil genius. It’s not Ellis’ most cerebral work, but it is great fun.  
 
Ann Leckie – Ancillary Justice
 
Where to start? I can’t believe this is a debut novel. It’s so elegantly crafted, a true tale of revenge but from the eyes of a ship’s AI, no less, stranded in an ancillary body and left to seek out its destroyer. Most interestingly, the novel’s main character (and the Radchaii in general) uses the pronoun ‘she’ to refer to people of all gender. Although it threw me to start with, it made me realise just how male-centric most sci-fi books are, and it was a refreshing change to visualise a character as female upon first instance, rather than male. I’m thoroughly looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.
 
On the to-read pile, I’ve got The Relic Guild by Edward Cox, of which I have heard Very Good Things.
 
What have you been reading lately? Please post your recommendations in the comments!
 
xoxo – Robyn

Getting back in the game

It’s been a bit of an odd month so far, September. I started it full of hope – I’m a bookish creature, and harking back to those not-so-halcyon schooldays, I’ve always considered September to truly be my ‘fresh start’, rather than January and its new year promise of change. Then I got norovirus, and it pretty much buggered up the first two weeks of the month for me. God, I hate vomit.
 
Also, work has been mad, to say the least, which doesn’t really put me in the right frame of mind to do much at all of a weekend except batter the shit out of Victorian gang members on Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate.
 
So while I’m very good at doing that, I haven’t been so good at getting started on a) fixing up the blog and b) kick-starting my creative writing again.
 
What I have been fairly good at is buying stationery. The back-to-school stationery rush is one of my favourite things about September, and I picked up a few choice items to try and ignite my writing fire.
 
getting-back-in-the-game-1
 
I’ve also tried to salvage a few items. Neil Gaiman, one of my favourite authors, is a big fan of writing things out by hand – at least to begin with. So I dug out an old Parker fountain pen that I got as a present one year, cleaned it up and put a new cartridge in. Fingers crossed, that’ll help. In the process, I also found a Shrek edition Vector, which is possibly the most ridiculous pen I’ve ever owned. I cleaned that one up too – it might make a good editing pen, after all.
 
getting-back-in-the-game-2
 
In terms of actually doing some writing, I’ve been seeking out short story competitions to give me a bit of a kick up the arse. I’ve found a couple with entries closing soon, and I’ve begun working on something that will hopefully become a nice little flash piece. I say nice, but actually, I don’t really do nice – I do macabre, or futuristic, or stuff in space, but very rarely nice.
 
And, as you can see, the blog itself has taken a bit of shape! I decided to give up on the idea of coding something myself and picked up a theme that I think will suit me for the time being. I’ve created a portfolio page and updated it with the few bits I have done over the past five years or so, and am very much hoping to add to the ‘published works’ section with a few of these short story competitions, although I won’t get too excited about them just yet.
 
So, my blogging journey begins once again – hopefully I won’t forget about it for half a year again! I’m very much looking to start reading other blogs on the writing process, and pieces from other aspiring authors, so if that’s you, please drop a link in the comments! September’s not over yet, and I plan to seize it by the balls, with a pumpkin spice Frappuccino in the other hand.
 
xoxo – Robyn

Although I’ve not really been blogging (or writing much of anything outside of work), I have been noticing all the ‘your bandwidth has nearly run out!!’ emails coming in from my hosting company. Yeah, I guess I didn’t really get the hang of that security thing.

So I’ve been doing a bit of research today and found a few plugins that should, fingers crossed, stop a load of the brute force login attempts I’ve been suffering from. But hey, at least it reminded me I still have this thing, right?

While it’s been somewhat freeing not to worry about having to put out new content each week, I’ve missed having deadlines on my personal creative stuff. So now that the Big Event is over for the year, I might be able to concentrate on getting some story drafts together, sprucing this old girl up and actually getting a grasp on my creative life again. That is, if Pokemon Go and Star Trek on Netflix don’t eat up my evenings for the next few months.

xoxo – Robyn

It looks like not actually logging in and doing anything with your blog means that loads of unscrupulous bots try and hack it. Those gits. So maybe I’d better actually start updating it before the robots take over.

Any advice on firewalls, security etc would be greatly appreciated.

xoxo – Robyn

Traditionally, I’ve never done change that well. Moving halfway down the country at an early age will do that to you. But throughout 2015, a lot changed, and I think I did pretty okay.

The first major event was moving in with Charlie. We’d been talking about it for a while, but we finally got the cajones to gather up some cash and make the big leap out. It was bittersweet for our parents, but these things have to happen. It’s been nice — really nice. Without getting too mushy about it, I’ve never been so sure that Charlie’s the one for me, even if his vegetarianism means never know the pure joy that is a slice of pepperoni pizza (trust me, that’s a lot of joy). And I’m always excited to see what the next day will have in store for us, whether that’s heading out to some far-flung show or snuggling up on the sofa to watch New Girl.

The other one was the passing of my grandma after a tough battle with cancer. Although my grandparents live hundreds of miles away, it’s left a more profound gap than I anticipated. It’s weird picking up the phone when I’m over at my mum and dad’s and finding it isn’t her on the other side. It’s also a bitter reminder that I was given too little time with my other grandparents as well, and I miss them all so dearly.

And finally, I turned 25. The quarter-century. Sounds like a Hunger Games event. So far, it’s alright.

I’ve got aspirations for the New Year, because everyone does and it’s the right thing to do. My first and foremost priority is to get my health in order, and in typically overdue fashion, shift some pounds. I hate exercise. I spent four hours playing Fallout 4 on the sofa, watching my character run and going ‘yes, good, sprint across the Commonwealth’, enjoying the fact that I didn’t have to exert any effort of my own. I am very good at shooting things on a television. I am at the peak of physical fitness in the virtual world, but I’m drastically out of shape in the real one, so I’m heading to the gym and attempting to stick at it. In the past year, I’ve tried various diets — Slimming World and the 5:2 stand out as the obvious ones — but it’s all bullshit unless you keep at it. I unfortunately like chocolate and bread-based dishes too much. I committed to buying new workout leggings at least, so we’ll see what happens this month.

I also want to make time to see the people that matter to me. I’m good at seeing my family, but my sister now lives three hours down the motorway and we don’t hang out unless she comes home. I’m phenomenally crap at seeing my friends, even when they live in the same town, so now that they’re all further away, I’m effectively a hermit. So I’m working on that, and it’d be great to keep in touch with some of my old university friends, and make more of an effort to make great memories.

My writing has taken a backseat since I moved out, and really, since I started getting a bit more responsibility at work. Although I’m not making any huge promises to myself, I’m going to try and pick up where I left off on TBO with a little column about what music I’m into that month. That’ll be nice, I think.

No matter what the world throws at me, I’m comforted by the fact some things will never change. Approximately one hour into 2016, I smacked my head on the cupboard door getting a glass out. I’m listening to an old Rival Schools record as I write this, rather than something new. I’ve got half a pizza waiting in the kitchen. I will probably stay in my pyjamas playing Fallout 4 until Charlie comes home. And that’s okay — now I’m in my mid-twenties, I’ve learned to cherish who I am. 2016 will come and go, and hopefully, it’ll be filled with all the things I like best — starting with that leftover pizza.