Thursday, 31 May 2012

Third Year Reading List

The bad news: my laptop has decided to randomly break (I'm writing this on my boyfriend's laptop). The good news: I've got my reading list for next year. The modules I'm doing next year are Writing History Fiction, Advanced Fictional Writing, Writing Comic Books and Graphic Novels, Science Fictions, Creative Visions, and finally Creative Voice.

Out of all the books I have only read two so far, and one of them is the Writer's and Artist's Yearbook, so not too fun.

For Creative Voice I have to read the following:

Have a look at How to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark (Penguin) and The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2012 (A&C Black).

Hypertext: The Electronic Labyrinth at
Ebbflux at
The Multiple Perspectives of Jekyll & Hyde at
E-zines: Blankpages at
The Recusant at
Print-on-demand: CompletelyNovel at

For Science Fictions I have to read:

H G Wells, The War of the Worlds
Poul Anderson, Three Hearts and Three Lions
P K Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
Trudi Canavan, The Magicians’ Guild

I've already read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, you may know it as the film Blade Runner, and started on The War of the Worlds. It's a pretty fun reading list and I'm really looking forward to doing this module. 

For Writing History Fiction I have to read these books over the summer:

Mantel, Hilary: Wolf Hall (London, Fourth Estate, 2009; paperback 2010)
Taylor, Andrew: The American Boy (London, Harper Perennial, 2004)
Faber, Michel, The Apple and other Crimson Petal stories (Canongate UK, 2011)

Finally, for Comics and Graphic Novels I have to read:

Rene DeLiz, ed., Womanthology 
Neil Gaiman, The Sandman Vol1: Preludes and Nocturnes
Frank Miller, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

I'm really excited for this, Neil Gaiman and Batman? How much more awesome can you get?

As you can see I have a lot to read over the summer, but good things, no more boring things like Wuthering Heights. 

Saturday, 26 May 2012

The Weather

A rather British beginning to a post - talking about the weather.

I'm finding it very hard to write at the moment as it is just so sunny. Who wants to stay indoors on their laptop when the weather is this great? Yes, I know I'm on a laptop now but that's because I've already been outside all morning. I have been working on things, don't get me wrong. I take a notepad out into the garden while I sunbathe. My idea for my ECP has been brewing for a couple of days now, just like the Herman Cake I was given by The Student Housewife, and now they're both ready to be put in the oven. Okay, I have no idea where that metaphor just went, my brain's been frazzled by the sun.

I guess what I meant was that my ECP idea has solidified into quite a workable story. I now have to actually start writing it. My ECP doesn't have to be handed in until March next year but I'm already prepared to start writing it, it feels way too soon. Of course, I have to have a meeting with Judy first, and hopefully she will like it, otherwise it's back to square one again. It's less of a romance now and more of a murder mystery. I never done any writing in this genre before so it will be interesting.

I wanted to write something more substantial in this post but I'm not ready to share my ECP plot and I'm too hot to think of anything else. Though last night I did have a dream that I got Firsts for my two environmental pieces, From Earth with Love and Gaia's Final Revenge. It was surprising dream, and an impossible one too as I didn't complete the word count for the second piece.

Oh well.

Time to go sit out in the sun again and forget my worries. 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Character Profile Sheet

Character Profile Sheets are very important in writing. And I have created the most awesome one ever. It is a combination of the two I have posted before. It has all the details you would need to define any of your characters. Fill this sheet out and you will know your characters back to front and inside out.

Date of Birth:
Social Class:

Family Background:
Marital Status: 
Children & Ages: 

Physical Appearance
Hair Colour:
Eye Colour:
Tattoos or Piercings:
What do they sound like:
Typical Outfit:
Any Other Info:
What would you find in the pocket/handbag:

Where do they live (City, Countryside):
Living Arrangements (House, Shared, Rented): 
Do they share it with anyone:
What is their home like: 
How do they get around:
Personal Information
Hobbies or Pastimes:
Favourite Films:
Favourite Books:
Favourite Album:
Favourite TV Programme:
Favourite Sport and Team:
Favourite Food:
Favourite Drink:
Favourite Colour: 
Perfect Weekend:
Ideal Holiday Destination:

Best Point:
Worst Point:
What is the thing that worries them most:
What do they look forward to:
Have they lost anything important to them:
What do they hate most: 
What is most important to them: 
What are their obsessions:
Do they have an ambition:
What do they dream about:
What are their secrets:
Do they believe in religion or life after death: 
Do they get on with other people or avoid them:
Who do they love: 
Has their heart ever been broken:
Do they have a best friend or someone they can confide in: 
Did they have a happy childhood:
What were they like in their childhood: 
When were they happiest:

Schools attended: 
Current year/grade:
How well are they doing:
Favourite Subject:
Most Hated Subject:

Job Description:
Degree of skill at occupation: 
How do they feel about their occupation:
Hours Worked:
Job Satisfaction:
Reputation at Work: 

Creative Writing Dissertation - ECP

Last week I had a meeting about my ECP (Extended Creative Piece). It's the Creative Writing version of a regular dissertation. It takes the place of two modules, so I only have to do six modules next year, but that still means 12 pieces of coursework as well as a dissertation. The ECP includes an 8000 word creative piece, which can be a couple of chapters of a story, a collection of poems, a screenplay, literally anything involving writing! Then I have to do a 2000 word rationale, not so interesting. I'm not so good at these, but hopefully I will have a lot of help and will have improved by this time next year. 

So, my meeting was with Judy Waite, my ECP supervisor. She was my lecturer for Fiction for Children module, and Creativity in the first year. She's a fun, and very creative person. She also knows a lot about the children's and young adult publishing/writing world. She has written quite a few books like Game Girls, which you may have heard of as it was pretty controversial and in the news, Forbidden, and The Next Big Thing as well as many others. I haven't read any of them yet but I keep meaning to. 

My idea for my ECP involves YAF and textual intervention. For Christmas I was given a huge book of Edgar Allan Poe stories and poems and I thought that would be a good contrast to the typical teenager fiction. I had thought of doing something about Maggie who takes all the advice from women's magazines. Judy thought it sounded good, but was a bit too complex for an 8000 word piece. She seemed very interested in textual intervention, which I had forgotten about really. We discussed what I would have to research over the summer, like talking to librarians, people at Waterstones, and maybe any teenage girls I know.

I have to go back in June for another meeting. By this point I need a 500 word synopsis and three pieces experimental writing. This may seem easy but I literally don't know what to write about. Well, that's not quite true, I have a few ideas rattling about. 

The main character, a girl (name undecided) moves to a new house in a little town near a place called the Nevermoor. The house and town are creepy, like something from a Tim Burton film. Things start happening to the girl that resemble the works of Edgar Allan Poe, like a black cat with one eye, ravens flocking, and bodies under the floorboards. The house will have been the place of a murder and to find out who the murderer is the girl has to read Poe's books and find out the endings. Of course, while this is all happening she will meet a boy and romance will ensue. 

Or something.

I haven't fully decided yet. But I'll keep mulling it over and hopefully more will come to me. Probably when I'm trying to sleep. It reminds me a little of Neil Gaiman's Coraline. You know, she moves to a new house, with a black cat hanging around, and there's the strange little door and the Other Mother. I would like that same level of magical creepiness in my own piece. 

I still have a while to decide. Until then I will have to think, think, think! If you have any ideas or thoughts, just leave a comment. 

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Bloody Chamber - An Intervention

This piece was my last assignment of my second year; I still can't believe it's gone by that fast. This was part of the Textual Intervention II module, you may have seen the essay I had to do for this module - The Worst Essay Ever. The creative side of this module is so much easier, and a lot more fun. Last term it was all about the Gothic, this term it was about fairy tales and their morals and messages. Well, something like that. I found last term more understandable, leading me to receive a First. I swear I will stop going on about that one day. Or maybe not.

While I am happy with this piece, I am not certain it will receive a First like I was last term. We didn't have much time to workshop, but my friend The Student Housewife helped me a lot. She's an editing genius.

Looks lovely...
So this story was inspired by Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, which I've mentioned only a few times before...I'm not exactly enthralled by the story but it is better than the original Bluebeard. I guess after studying it for A-level English and Art I do feel somewhat attached to it. The guidelines for this creative piece was to retell a fairy tale, or explore the themes, or add a message. Something. It's pretty bad that I don't know this by now. But I stuck with something simple and did a retelling. This may sound boring to you, but it's a creepy, jazzed up version. I spoke of it before in a post called Mark De Sade Idea. It's a play on words of the S&M 'inventor', Marquis de Sade. He wrote a book on the reading list called The Misfortunes of Virtue and Other Early Tales. It's supposed to be all sexual and grim, but the parts I read were really boring. This story has the basic plot of The Bloody Chamber/Bluebeard, with the theme of curiosity, with some of de Sade's sexual fantasies thrown in for good measure.

I'll stop yabbering on and let you read it now.

Mark Desade’s Misfortune of Curiosity

EDIT - 31 March 2012: I am removing this post temporarily as it is entered in Short Fiction's Competition. It will be back in July.

EDIT: My lecturer's comment at the end was 'OMG! She took pictures of him? I didn't see that coming!' I got my lecturer to say OMG! That must be a sign of a great twist ending. 

Monday, 14 May 2012

From Earth with Love -or- Alien in Southampton

This is my second Writing and the Environment piece. This one had to be inspired by the field trips we took during the course. We went to St Catherine's Hill, the New Forest, and Southampton. It was during the late winter time so the places weren't too inspiring, there was just a lot of mud and naked trees. I had no idea what I wanted to write about. But luckily the deadline was pushed back until after Easter, meaning I had an extra four weeks to write something up.

I thought I'd write something about the New Forest, yet in the end I wrote something about Southampton. I didn't think I'd find a city more inspiring than the woodlands, having grown up near the woods and Dartmoor. Funny how things turn out. I was still at a loss even after I decided to write about Southampton. This idea only came to me when I was trying to sleep, as usual.

I'm not particularly happy with the title but it sounded better than Alien in Southampton.

From Earth with Love

I have arrived in Southern Hampton. I don’t know where Hampton is or even where the Northern, Eastern, or Western ones are. But then again, this planet is funny. There are so many places that have the same name. They even have new versions. New York, New England, and I suppose at some point there was an old Zealand too. They should just name their places after numbers, like us, it provides limitless possibilities. 610846738.92 sounds so much better than Southern Hampton, after all.

The name of the place isn’t the only thing that confuses me. For one thing their transportation is bizarre. I know I learnt all about it Earth Studies: Section 457 Transport, but seeing it in real life is just mind boggling. The humanoids crowd together in metal tubes on wheels, which roar by on tracks every couple of minutes. They look so unsophisticated; this humanoid technology is definitely lacking. I was teleported onto one of these ‘trains’ so my arrival would be less obvious, no one would notice another humanoid joining the horde. I wish I could have been teleported to a quieter place though; rubbing against perspiring humanoids was not how I imagined my first moments on Earth.

I was pleased when the metallic monster finally stopped and I could escape its confinements. I placed my first foot on solid Earth, and was highly disappointed. This was it? Everything was so…concrete.

The stations we have on 610846738.92 are much better than these Earth ones. We have easily accessible portals, which mean no queues and no waiting. It also means none of this pushing and rushing around. At least four of the humanoids jabbed me with their pointed appendages, called ‘elbows’. At first I thought this was their odd way of greeting each other, but after I did this with a smile to a humanoid myself and got yelled at, I realised I was very wrong. After that I kept my fake humanoid limbs to myself.

Outside I was even more surprised. The first thing I saw was this sign. A little white humanoid, a circular shape, and a ring. I thought back to my Earth Studies. The white humanoid was self-explanatory. The other two were more puzzling. The circular shape, with little hexagons, what was it again? It was some sort of ball. The humanoids played with it during a thing called ‘sports’. Oh, I remember now! It was a feetball. And the ring on top, that was a religious symbol, wasn’t it? Meaning angels? So was this sign was pointing me toward an angelic feetball? I shook my head, that couldn’t be right. Was feetball a religion, I couldn’t remember. I should have paid more attention in Earth Studies: Section 666 Religion, but it was so boring.

I turned away from the sign before I could confuse myself any further. The humanoids were much more complicated than I had originally thought. I walked down the street, which again was more grey concrete, and noticed more of the humanoid’s transportation. A metal two wheeler. There were loads of them, all stored in racks.

Beaks! These always looked so fun during Earth Studies. I hurried to the beaks and tried to get on one. It was tied up to the rack with a chain and I couldn’t get my fake humanoid leg over; they were hard to control, so different from my tentacles. I was half way on the beak when a humanoid ran at me. He was wearing a plastic hat that was buckled under his chin, and very tight humanoid clothing; I could almost see another humanoid appendage. His was screaming in the humanoid language, I think ‘English’ or maybe it was ‘Chinese’. I’ll be honest; I never got the knack of the languages. Something about a bike? What’s a bike? I didn’t stick around to find out. The first thing we learnt in Earth Studies was that if a humanoid was to attack us we were to press a button on our Interaction Transmission Band and we would be teleported home. I didn’t want to go home yet, so I leapt off the beak and ran down the street.

I only stopped running when I saw this fantastic building. I didn’t think I’d see any of these in Southern Hampton as I thought they were only made in a place called ‘Egypt’. There was a huge pyramid in the centre of town. I was amazed because I had learnt that great leaders, the Pheromones, had been buried inside them. If I remembered correctly from Section 756 Royalty there was a King Cnut. Was a King the same thing as a Pheromone? I tried to cross the grey rivers, or ‘roads’ as the humanoids call them, but couldn’t. Too many transportation devices kept rolling by. There were even some that had more than eight wheels. Were these the ‘road trains’? Every time I tried to step onto the road, one of these transportation boxes would screech by and honk. I looked at the pyramid from afar; it didn’t seem like I would ever find out who was buried inside.

Dejected, I carried on down the street. It wound endlessly and I wished desperately for a portal to ride. How humanoids survived with simply walking and their crazy wheeled contraptions, I don’t know. But eventually I found something of interest. Now, I thought this sort of transportation was only meant to travel on a thing called ‘water’, which I learnt covers 75% of the Earth. But this ‘boat’ as they’re called, was quite far into land. I think it was specifically a ‘croose ship’ called the Marks & Spencer. Now, I’ve heard that these sorts of ships are rather luxurious and cost lots of ‘money’ which is the humanoid currency. If I really wanted to go on it I would have to be cunning, as I can’t pay. We’re expected to visit Earth with no humanoid currency, it’s ridiculous, and something I’ll be bringing up with my supervisors.

Cautiously, I walked closer to the ship. I hurried up the steps and across a ‘courtyard’ where humanoids drank from tiny dishes with handles. I’m pretty sure this was the humanoids drinking ‘teaandcoffee’. I have had a sample of this concoction during Earth Studies: Section 432 Liquids and I can safely say it was disgusting. I kept my distance from the drinking humanoids and sneakily scurried to the entrance of the croose ship. Now I was stuck. I had never seen doors like this before. I thought there only was one kind of door. But this one was round and was spinning. I watched for a while as humanoids entered one chamber from the outside and span around to the inside. Was this their kind of portal? Eagerly I ran to the spinning door. I squeezed into one of the chambers and slowly span into the croose ship. I couldn’t believe how easy it was. No one had caught me at all. Humanoids were nothing compared to the genius of 610846738.92ians.

Inside the croose ship was not how I imagined it all. It was all marble and glass windows. I thought windows were to enable humanoids to see outdoors while being indoors. However, these windows didn’t show the outdoors, they showed artificial white humanoids, some didn’t even have faces. My first thought was this is where humanoids were made, but then I remembered Section 198 Reproduction, and this was nothing like that. I saw many humanoids admiring these plastic versions of themselves. If this wasn’t where humanoids were made, was it for something else? Past these windows and artificial humanoids I saw racks of colourful fabric. Ah, yes ‘clothing’. This was what the humanoids wore. On 610846738.92 we don’t have clothes; we let our tentacles hang loose. But who am I to judge? I thought I would get myself some of this humanoid clothing as a souvenir. But what type? There were so many different windows showing so many different styles. I looked at the signs that hung above these places and I couldn’t read any of them, I should really have paid more attention in Earth Studies: Section 05 Language. Then I saw a word I did recognise, ‘Senza’. On 610846738.92 this means something along the lines of masculinity. Maybe this is where you buy humanoid male clothes. The guys back home will be jealous.

I slowly made my way into the shop, La Senza, trying to look as normal as possible. These clothing items looked a bit flimsy, but maybe that’s how you showed off your manliness here. The humanoids in the windows looked pretty masculine to me. I didn’t know how I was going to get a piece of clothing without paying. That was until I saw a sign saying changing rooms. I understood now; you didn’t need to pay, you could just get changed and leave. Happily, I picked up a purple clothing item. I liked the colour purple because you didn’t get in on 610846738.92, it’s only an Earth colour.

I stripped down so I was only wearing my hairy, fake humanoid skin. I found it awkward to get my humanoid arms through the straps and I it took me ages to figure out how to do it up; why would you but a clasp at the back? Luckily, the other part was easy to work out. I just had to put my humanoid legs through the holes. Overall, the clothing was quite tight; the top piece cut into my chest and the bottoms got stuck in the crease of my humanoid butt. The fabric was so smooth on my fake skin; I wonder what it would feel like on my tentacles.

Proudly, I exited the changing rooms. I was pleased with the amount of attention I received. I must have been looking very manly. Unfortunately, I only got as far as the windows before a humanoid tackled me from behind. I screeched as the humanoid grabbed me and panic drove me to press the button on my Interaction Transmission Band. Within seconds I was teleported back to 610846738.92. I looked down at my normal tentacles in dismay; my beautiful humanoid outfit hadn’t been transported back with me. What a wasted journey.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Gaia's Final Revenge

Here's one of my Writing and the Environment pieces. It's the one that I really struggled with and had a massive tizzy about. I was so pleased when I handed it in, those 2184 words were the hardest I had ever written. So you can imagine how distraught I was when I found out the word count was actually 2500 (10% either way) not 2000. Even if it is the most brilliant piece of writing I have ever done, which let's be honest, it isn't, then I will still lose marks for not writing enough. I'm really hoping that my lecturer is terrible at maths and can't work out that I'm way under the 10% leeway.

But by the sounds of it, I wasn't the only person that had issues with this piece. Another girl in my class wrote it all the day before just like I did. She didn't reach the word count either, so she just didn't write it down (I wish I thought of that).

This story evolved from a very dodgy Day after Tomorrow-esque piece I originally wrote in utter desperation. I admit, a very tiny part of me thought it was all right, but my boyfriend said it was ridiculous and obviously he was right. I scrapped that idea and came up with this one instead. It still has elements of the old one, but with a more personal touch.

Some of the inspiration came from this map I found on It's a pretty funky website, you should check it out.

Anyway, I'll get on to the story now.

Gaia's Final Revenge.

They’re calling it the revenge of Gaia; I heard it on the news. Gaia is a goddess of the Earth and all these disasters are her payback. We watch the news a lot now; we never get to watch Sponge Bob anymore.

It all started five weeks ago.

On Tuesday, I got back from school and Mum was glued to the telly, Travis, our Labrador, sat on the floor by her feet, ears drooping. I knew something was wrong because Mum was really pale, her mouth hanging open like a fish. There had been a huge hurricane in America. Not like the normal ones that blow around Florida, but one that had blown right across the entire country. No one had predicted it so no one was prepared. The news people said it was a hundred times worse than Hurricane Katrina, the one that happened a few years back in New Orleans.

When Dad got back from work he sat in front of the telly as well. All evening they both stared at it, and they tell me off for watching it too long. The situation was worse though, places like Canada and Mexico were now getting storms. Mum was worried because her sister, my Aunty Nicky, was on holiday in Ottawa. We never did hear from her again.

All week Mum watched the news nonstop. They had loads of scientists on, some were called Meteorologists, some were Biologists, but my favourite were the Environmental scientists. That’s where I learnt about Gaia from. A guy called Barry Commoner said that we had been damaging the world for long enough and this was our punishment – Gaia was fighting back and it was going to get a lot worse. I’d never thought about the Earth being a girl before, but Dad laughed at me when I said it to him.

On Wednesday the hurricane finally stopped. Everyone rushed to America to help. I saw on the news all the wreckage. All the skyscrapers were destroyed and loads of houses were completely flooded, they even showed a shot of the White House under six foot of water. It looked like one of those disaster movies. Mum was crying. I didn’t know what to do, parents weren’t supposed to cry. I sat next to her on the sofa and patted her on the shoulder. Travis rested his head on my lap and whined quietly.

‘There, there,’ I said copying what Mum said to me when I was upset.

‘Oh, George,’ she sobbed. ‘All those people…so many people…’

I sat with her until Dad came home. I was glad when he did because Mum was scaring me a little. Dad tucked me in that night, he said Mum wasn’t feeling well but she’d be better in the morning.

She didn’t look better though. She was sickly looking, and her eyes were all red. She hugged me goodbye and kissed me on the cheek like usual, but her lips were cold and hugged me too tight, it hurt. At school I could barely concentrate, my friends, Bobby and Max, kept going on about the hurricane. I wished they would stop talking about it, it was over now.

Only when I got home it was worse.

‘George, George!’ Mum screamed as soon as I was through the door. ‘It’s happened again!’

I ran into the living room, Travis trailing after me, tail between his legs. Mum was sat on the floor right in front of the telly, her hands on the screen. ‘Look, it’s wiped out half of Asia.’

On the news the reporter man was talking.

‘The earthquake measured in at 10.8 on the Richter Magnitude Scale, something that has never been recorded before in all of history. The massive waves hit China, Japan, Korea, Australia and Russia within hours…’

I stopped listening. I knelt down next to Mum and hugged her again. This time I couldn’t help but cry too. This was wrong. We had learnt about natural disasters at school, I was pretty sure they weren’t all supposed to happen at once.

Dad came home early and hugged us both.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘England, and most Europe, is safe from these types of disasters. That’s why we’re one of the oldest civilisations in the world.’

I nodded. Dad was always right.


A few days later our electricity cut out. Mum wailed as the telly snapped off with a buzz. She’d been sat in front of it for days watching every news channel, day and night. The whole city was down, and we soon found out it was a nationwide blackout.

Dad lit candles in the living room and gave me a torch for when I went to bed.

‘Don’t keep it on all night though, besides you have Travis to protect you,’ he said as he tucked me in again. Travis lay on the bottom of my bed, tongue hanging out. I smiled at Dad, which he returned faintly. Dad looked rough as well. He had huge bags under his eyes and he hadn’t shaved for a few days, his chin was prickly when he kissed me goodnight.

Within days of the blackout our local shops were smashed and ravaged, every scrap of food taken. People were panicking now the power had gone; they thought a freak disaster would hit us next. Mum wasn’t getting any better so me and Dad did the shopping instead. I thought it would be all right but I was scared the whole time. Hysterical people kept grabbing and pushing, snatching things out of your hands. I clung to Dad, begging to go home. The next time he went out shopping he left me with Mum.

Even with the telly down we knew when the volcanoes erupted. The sky was covered in ash, mixing with the storm clouds. It rained black for days. We were forced to stay indoors, not that there was much to do outdoors anymore. It rained constantly; I had forgotten what the sun even looked like. The small stream down the road, the one I used to build damns across with Bobby and Max, was now a river. The surrounding houses were completely flooded. The owners, Mr and Mrs Drayton left weeks ago. So have Bobby’s family. Many people have left our street now; I don’t know where they’ve gone though. Maybe to be with their families.

It was after the volcanoes that the first immigrants started to arrive. People from mainland Europe had braved the stormy seas in poorly made boats in hope that Britain would be safer. While at church, as Mum now insisted that we visit God in these desperate times, we heard about the volcanoes. Pastor Fredrick had heard from friends in Dover that Mount Etna had caused a Mediterranean tsunami. France, Spain, Italy had been hit as well as parts of Africa. Europe wasn’t safe from natural disasters anymore. The town’s people panicked. Mrs Robson burst into tears. Mr Grison, who was one of the few people to still live in our street, went red in the face. And I heard Dad say a very bad swear word. I was shocked when Mum didn’t scold him. Surely swearing in the house of God was a sin? What I gathered from the meeting was that we didn’t want more people here; we could barely survive as it was.

Mum cried all night. I could hear her from my room. I hid under the duvet and buried my head in Travis’s fur but it didn’t block out the noise. Dad was probably downstairs. He always seemed to be in the kitchen nowadays. If I went downstairs in the night time for a glass of water he was still there, with one of his grown up drinks. He would get back from work and just sit in the kitchen, staring at nothing. I really hoped this would end soon. I wanted everything to go back to normal. I wanted my normal Mum back, the one that cuddled and kissed me. And I wanted my normal Dad back who played cars with me and taught me how to kick a football properly. The only normal one around here seemed to be Travis, he never changed.


I didn’t go to school anymore; I hadn’t been in a week. Mum was supposed to be teaching me instead, but all she did was stare at the walls and bite her nails. I tried to talk to her a few times but she’d only whimper or mutter about dead people. It used to freak me out but now I ignore her. I feel bad but there’s nothing else I can do. Dad seems to feel the same way. They never talk now. Dad tries with me, but I can tell he’d rather be anywhere else than our house. It’s why he still goes to work, in these terrible storms, even when he doesn’t have to. The only one I spoke to now was Travis, we played with each other even when I was supposed to be doing school work.

One day I was playing catch with Travis in the hallway. Mum used to tell me off for playing with a ball in the house. I had broken one of the glass ornaments that Mum loved so much, but I didn’t think she would care anymore. I was pushing the broken pieces behind the other ornaments when Travis gave a pained bark. I turned and saw him collapse to the floor.

‘Travis!’ I screamed as I ran to him.

I fell down next to him and patted his head. His nose was dry and he panted heavily. He whined and coughed, blood spattering across the carpet. I screamed again.

‘Travis, what’s wrong boy? Travis?’ I petted and stroked but Travis had gone still. I hugged his stiff body and tears fell down my cheeks. My only friend was gone.

Mum came running then. Finally broken from her dreaming. She tried to cheer me up. She made my favourite meal, spaghetti meat balls, on the little camp fire we had instead of our oven. I wanted to like it but it was flavourless lumps in my mouth. She even tucked me at night, and kissed me on both cheeks and the nose like she used to. But it wasn’t the same without Travis sleeping at the end of my bed. Dad didn’t come home till much later but he must have seen the bundle covered in sheets on the front garden, because he came to my room straight away.

‘Hey, buddy,’ he said as he sat on the edge of the bed. He didn’t say anything else but he let me cry on his shoulder.


The next day Dad was already at work, and without Travis I didn’t know what to do. I trudged around the house looking for something to do. Mum was in the living room, lying on the sofa like usual. I played around with a few of my toy cars before quickly growing bored again. I slouched into my parent’s room, which is normally off limits, but I didn’t care now. Nothing was very interesting in there. Just parent things. Then I noticed a book peeking from beneath the bed. Cautiously I picked it up. Making Peace with the Planet, by Barry Commoner. The environmental scientist I saw on the telly. He knew this was going to happen, maybe he how to save the planet, too.

I was sitting at the table, reading the book by candlelight. I didn’t understand most of what it said but I liked how some of the long words sounded. The book was talking about a war between something called the ‘ecosphere’ and the ‘technosphere’ when Dad burst through the front door. He opened his mouth and spluttered, ‘Plants…toxic…air…’ before blood spewed out.

I cried out as Dad collapsed to the floor, just like Travis. His eyes bulged, and his whole body seemed to collapse in on itself. I was petrified, stuck on a chair as Dad’s blood, still gushing from his disfigured lips, pooled around me. I sat there for what felt like hours. Finally, I stood on my chair and hopped onto the table. It was then I thought about Mum. She didn’t come when I screamed. Yesterday she came instantly. I felt a shudder of fear down my spine. I dropped down off the table and edged towards the living room. I peeked around the door. In the candlelight I saw her. She was slumped on the sofa, blood smeared down her dress, across the cushions and seeping into the carpet.

I vomited. Over and over until nothing but pathetic spittle came up.

Then, I felt a twinge in my heart. A stabbing in my chest. My skin burned all over. I fell to my knees. I gasped for air, each breath cut my throat. Soon I was throwing up again. Not sick but blood. Tears streamed down my face and I knew this was the end. I was dying.

This was Gaia’s final revenge.

EDIT 01/2013: My lecturer didn't realise I was 500 words short and it didn't affect my grade, although it wasn't my best grade in the first place.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


As my course is finished for the year, but everyone else is still revising/working, I have become quite bored. So, I decided to finally join Pottermore. I had been really excited when the concept was first announced and eagerly awaited October, when the beta was opened to a select few. I did try to join but I never received my welcoming email and so was unable. I hear this happened to a lot of people, how unfair! But now it's open to everybody so I tried again, and I am now a member of Pottermore, yippee! My name is HexOak29860 if you really fancy adding me.

I mainly joined Pottermore so I could find out all the new things that J.K has added, like back stories of characters and extra facts. I admit some of them are very interesting, I liked how Petunia and Vernon met, and learning about McGonagall's childhood. But really, the interesting facts are few and far between. Lots of them can be found on the Harry Potter Lexicon.

I love the Harry Potter stories but I've read them so many times before that I don't need to read them again on the computer. I skipped over those parts of Pottermore. The drawings that accompanied the story were good though, but you never saw an of the character's faces, which is a bit eerie, especially when Hagrid is looming in dark corners.

The tasks you have to do can be a bit tedious too, like opening your Gringotts account or buying spell books. Buying school books isn't fun in real life and isn't fun in a fake wizard world, either. You can buy an animal too, in fact you have to, as it will become your profile picture. I went for a cat because some of the owls look a bit creepy. Also, you don't need an owl as you don't send any owl post. Sometimes I do wish there were magical dogs, and not just three-headed ones.

While in Diagon Alley there is one exciting bit that comes up - getting your wand. Obviously it doesn't happen the same way it does in the book. Instead you have to answer questions. And these are some pretty random and obscure questions. Luckily there aren't that many to answer, and they have some funky drawings too. Then ta-da! You have your wand. My wand is Rowan wood with a Unicorn core. Here more facts from J.K are made available, you get to learn some new things about the woods used and wand cores. There's some bits about Ollivander, too. I don't want to ruin reading about it for yourself though.

So, you have all your school equipment and wand, what next? Hogwarts! This is the bit everyone's really excited about - getting sorted. Now, my boyfriend and sister had already done this back in October, and they got sorted into Hufflepuff and Slytherin, so I knew what to expect. These questions are equally random as the wand ones are. I don't really understand how some of them would affect what house you would be put in, black or white? Dawn or dusk? Bit weird. Some questions are interesting, like what superpower would you have? I chose talking to animals because then you could get animals to listen in on other people's conversations. Maybe that's a bit Slytherin of me after all. I was a bit nervous as I'll be honest, I didn't want to be in Hufflepuff, house-ist I know! But luckily for me I was put into RAVENCLAW! Woo hoo! It's the one I wanted to be in really. I'm not brave enough for Gryffindor, or cunning enough for Slytherin, and I suppose I could have been in Hufflepuff to be fair. But I much prefer Ravenclaw.

Now you can start earning house points. So far I have only earned 36, but some people have earned 230,766. You do this by finding books and chocolate frog cards. You can also get them for winning at duels but I'm pretty bad at casting spells. That's actually quite a fun part of Pottermore, spells and potion making. They're both quite tricky and awkward but strangely addictive. I am determined to win at a wizard's duel eventually!

Anyway, after that I really skimmed through the rest of the book. You can comment on each section and chapter. You get a lot of comments, mainly things like: LOVED IT!!!!! DUMBLEDORE IS MY FAVOURITE!!!! I LOVE HARRY!!! It can be a bit overwhelming. I love Harry Potter as much as the next person but I don't fancy screaming about it caps lock.

In the end, going through the whole book was more of a chore than anything. I wanted to really like Pottermore but it was more like Potterbore. Only the first book is available at the moment and I'm not sure I'll be fussed when the other six are put up. I think I'll just stick to reading the books and watching the films. They're enough for me. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Second Year Complete - Grades and Assignments

I have handed in my last assignments of second year. I am now done! How quickly those two years have gone by, only one left now. It's actually quite sad, I don't want university to end.

So, the three final pieces I handed in today were called From Earth with Love, Gaia's Final Revenge, and a textual intervention piece, Mark Desade's Misfortune of Curiosity. I'll be posting them here in the next couple of days.

Today, I also picked up my grades.

I had butterflies in my tummy as I stepped up to the counter. I thought I was only able to pick up one piece of work but the guy behind the counter handed me three. I waited till I was outside to look. And then I peeked at the grades...

67% 66% 67%


I got 67% for my presentation. That's right, I did well in a presentation! Me! I just read through the comments and the only bad thing seemed to be that we read from a script. Not totally fair as she did say we could do that, but whatever. I am so chuffed! I knew making those cakes would get us a good grade.

The 66% was for my Fiction for Children piece, Royalteen. It's a great grade but I'm still a tiny bit gutted. I thought it may be First Class material, but obviously not. The comments were good, it just seems like I need to make my writing more funky, get into the teenage voice more. I suppose this will all help towards my ECP. And this was marked by the lecturer who I thought would be harsh. But she marked this piece and the presentation nicely so I'm not too worried about having her as a supervisor any more.

The other 67% was for Creative Voice, all the Sketches I did. My marker particularly like The House at the End of the Road, so that's good. The criticism was that I should 'show not tell' but I think that's something that everyone does and takes a while to grow out of.

Overall, I'm a pretty happy bunny. Let's hope the other three grades are just as good. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Collecting Grades = Bundle of Nerves

I actually completed my Writing and the Environment pieces. And I'm pretty pleased with them, hurray!

On the down side I have marked pieces to collect tomorrow...

Getting the grades for work is like a warped kind of Christmas. You know, you can't get to sleep and you're really excited about what awesome presents you may have gotten. That's what I'll be like tonight, lying in bed thinking of all the potential Firsts I may, or may not, get.

I have only got one First before (I got one in the first year too, but that year didn't count). The thing is, I knew that it was First material so I wasn't too surprised when I got 72%. It was The Diary of Lucy Van Helsing, and I felt pretty confident when I handed it in. I haven't really felt like that with any of my other pieces. I once thought my essay was good, but I have come to learn that my essays aren't as good as I think they are.

So, the marked pieces of work I have to collect tomorrow are my Sketches from Creative Voice, that's The Armani Assassin, The House at the End of the Road, Agricolaphobia, and Your Housemate Hitler. I'm feeling a little bit confident, though I have thought about how I could have made them much better, but too late for that!

I also have a presentation grade to collect. This presentation was about a children's book called Secrets, Lies, and My Sister Kate by Belinda Hollyer. I thought our presentation went all right but compared to everyone else's it seemed a little scripted and not super-duper acted. Other people had memorized their entire scripts, or re-enacted scenes, one even used a sock puppet! Personally, I don't think our group should be penalised for not being great actors. We're quiet people and that's how we like it.

The last piece I have to collect is Royalteen. I really liked this piece and I worked hard on all the extra bits, like back story and maps. I'm only worried because my lecturer, who is marking it, is very meticulous. She writes YAF and children's books so she knows what works and what doesn't. She also knows what she likes. So, I am a little worried that she'll find loads of things wrong with it or just not like it at all. She's really nice though, and she's my ECP supervisor for next year so hopefully I won't begrudge her too much if she marks me down.

For the rest of the day I am going to be rereading and doing some last minute editing to my last three creative pieces of my second year. I can't believe I will have finished my second year of university tomorrow! Crazy! Keep watching this space as I'll be posting them soon. 

Friday, 4 May 2012

Revenge of Gaia - Why the Earth is Fighting Back and I can't Finish this Assignment.

I've gone mad.

I've been trying to write this stupid Environmental creative piece for so long that it's made me bonkers. I can barely type any more.

Let me give you some background info on this assignment. It has to be 2000 words long, easy enough, or so you would think. It has to be inspired by one or more of the four set texts, of which I didn't finish reading. That's right, I confess, I didn't finish reading any of them! That probably explains why I'm finding this so difficult. Also, it has be handed in on Tuesday, in five days time. So that's three reasons for why I'm still awake at 2 in the morning. And yes, I could be writing the assignment instead of writing this, but I need a break at some point, right? Right?

Okay, let me put the sane head on. Take a deep breath and calm down...

I've been writing this piece for over three hours now. I was finding it difficult so I decided to just do some free writing and see where it went. I thought of the premise this morning while I was in shower (ideas come at random times) and started it this afternoon. It's supposed to be inspired by The Revenge of Gaia - Why the Earth is Fighting Back and How We Can Still Save Humanity by James Lovelock. The couple of pages I did actually read were about Earth and how we have destroyed it, yaddah yaddah. I found the book preachy and somewhat boring, so I never finished it. You can just tell by the title what it's going to be like!

The idea of my piece was literally the Earth fighting back. The Earth is living and starts serving us with every natural disaster possible, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, everything! Only it started sounding a bit like a Day After Tomorrow or 2012 spin-off, with endless disaster after disaster. I'm not sure if it is something my lecturer will appreciate. Oh, also, plants become poisonous. I know that sounds a bit like that film The Happening where plants start being deadly and evil but that wasn't my intention. Anyway, eventually, after 1000 words of disaster drivel I actually came to some sort of plot. A boy that survives all this stuff. Him being able to survive the toxic plants reminds me of I Am Legend, you know, where he is immune to the crazy vampire disease, but again not my intention. That just slipped through as I read the book recently (that's right, it was a book first). So, the boy survives the disasters and poisonous plants and meets a woman who is also immune, and works at CERN, which was (conveniently) prepared for all these chaotic events. Together they travel to CERN and...something happens.

I haven't got that far yet.

I'm totally stumped. All together it's 2787 words, way over the limit, and it's no where near an ending.
I thought maybe if I wrote this blog post out an ending would come to me, but nothing has so far. This piece has changed from pathetic ramblings to at least a 30,000 word novel. I wanted to go with my original Revenge of Gaia piece but I couldn't stretch it out to 2000 words. I think my best option right now is to go to bed. Maybe I'll dream up a good ending. If not I may have to start again. Or maybe I'll post it here and you can give me a few pointers.

Anyway, wish me luck!