Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Books, TV adaptations and A Game of Thrones.

A friend of mine has just put up a parody of last year's season/book of Game of Thrones and it's reminded me of all the things I loved about it.


Somewhere in the North ...

Catelyn: Okay, we’ve got more kings than you can shake a sword at, my husband is dead, the people are freaking out, everyone’s washing is getting dirty because of all the pillaging and burning, and did I mention my husband is dead? Not that I’m trying to guilt-trip you, son. (read more).

Last year, I was so excited by the upcoming release of Game of Thrones. The previous year had been amazing, and actually managed to make me pick up the books for the first time.

For anyone who has been following me on Goodreads, I have spent most of the year since then struggling to read book three of Game of Thrones: A Storm of Swords.


35% -- "Suppose I should finish this book before season premiere in April." 

48% -- "Trudging along. This book isn't just long, its pages are half as thin as others'!" 

51% -- "I have been getting through this. Just lazy about updating these last couple of days..."

58% -- "Okay, now I'm actually enjoying getting back to this one."

60% -- "Oh bitch, they didn't...!"

My feelings towards the book are rich and varied.

Now it's been a couple of weeks since the third season premiered, and I'm just getting around to watching it. And I'm going to say (much as I hate the words...) I genuinely think that at least thus far this season is better than this book.

Less restrained: And I am BACK on BOARD!

Last season, Game of Thrones did something very smart and combined the plots of Arya Stark and Tywin Lannister for the purpose of a more concise plot. As I thought that both plots dragged in the books, I thought this was a prudent choice and worked very well throughout season two.


In A Storm of Swords, third book, the biggest problem I kept having was the disjointedness each time the book went from the point of view of one character to the next. I kept literally having to put the book down and take some time in between chapters so that I could get out of one character's head and into the next one.

I look forward to the rest of third season if it continues like this!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Work, sickies and Joanne Harris.

I love Joanne Harris. Joanne is a novelist who may still be best known for her 1999 novel which got turned into a movie by the same name, Chocolat.

I have a bookshelf at home that is all but dedicated to her books and have read all but two of them. Her writing is the kind that I love to dive into, her life is one I have enjoyed being voyeur to ever since I found her Twitter account (@joannechocolat) and her regular #Storytime segment is one I read every time and can't understand how it loses her followers.

Now, she is also someone with whom I can feel somewhat of a spirit of unity after reading this recent blog post of hers on Tumblr:


When I was an accountant (oh yes, twelve months in hell), I pulled a sickie whenever I could. It was a sick environment: I was surrounded by people I loathed, whose conversation revolved entirely around money, their car, squash, money, Margaret Thatcher (whom they idolized) and their chances of discovering a fraud - which was every trainee accountant’s dream, the Suit equivalent of winning the Lottery.

I dreamed of stories (and wrote them, too, whenever I could). I had no money, no car. I didn’t play squash and I despised the Thatcher government. The other trainees called me “The Squaw” - because they thought I looked like an Indian. I had no interest whatever in fraud. I felt like a character in a Terry Gilliam movie, fighting a giant, bureaucratic machine.

Some days I played hookey, telling Accounts that I was working in Archives: telling Archives I was working in... (read more)

This is today's quick #Storytime for me, something that reminds me I'm not the only writer who's ever found it hard to juggle that-thing-we-love with that-thing-that-pays-our-bills.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Back Down the Rabbit Hole.

Months ago, I wrote a post about journeying through mental health. For me, being a writer is about sharing stories, about reaching out to other people with those stories, real and fictional. That post still stands as one of the most viewed posts in this blog, and if I managed to help one person or show one person they were not so alone in feeling that way, then the post was a success.

I wrote another blog post a couple of days back about how work has been getting me down lately. But that I'm also there a lot. So I've been trying to find some meaning in the workplace that sees me so much more than any of my friends and family. Because shouldn't there be meaning in something you are spending so much time doing?

I've been applying for internal positions within the workplace. I've been watching my stats and making sure I'm pretty much the best damned me I can be, and thinking that within a meritocracy those efforts will pay off.

Maybe they would, if I was in a meritocracy.

Unfortunately, I'm in a corporateocracy. And that seems to translate into 'high school for adults'.

I didn't really like high school the first time round. High school was... me not really understanding what was going on a lot of the time, except that there was a popular group and I was not in it. Like many of my friends these days, I was never really how to get in it. Maybe there was a special letter sent out to some peoples' homes, like for Hogwarts.

I escaped high school with as much as I could of me intact, having gotten out of it what I had come there for: My education.

I expect I'm supposed to say that I am getting out of work what I came there for: My money.

The work place seems to be another popularity contest but, other than that, things aren't as clear. I went in without a very clear idea of what I want to get out of it. At the beginning, it was something that was going to supplement the income of my household, but then my fiancee got a pay rise, and I had to think of what this work was doing for me. Independence, then. Or else something to keep me sane through writer's block, or just to keep me talking to other people who exist outside of my Word documents. Trouble is, my idea of what I'm doing there isn't clear enough, so I'm left without a clear aim of why I'm staying in this high school for adults.

And, as if that isn't enough, the black dog seems to be back to chase me down that familiar rabbit hole. I've been lucky. I've had a fairly clear couple of months there, so clear that I stopped even taking the St John's Wort that was such a life saver for me last December. I had a stellar last session with my counsellor who was pleased I was in a much better place than when I'd first come in. We've even had good news with my partner's cancer, though that's more his story to tell.

I suppose, with all the good things going on and moving forward around me, it makes sense for me to look inward; I'm no longer quite so needed to stand strong as a support for other people. And maybe that's the reason I'm a little bit more realistic and admitting that it's not just their upsets that are getting me down, but rather I'm not so happy with my own layout of life as I appear to be.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy being a writer and--while my job was low hours and low stress--I quite enjoyed work too. But I'm not where I want to be as a writer. Not yet. One book does not mean 'successful', and I'm looking forward to Revelry following after Gothic and getting to parade that new novel around like it's a new prize pony. Work was supposed to be there as a complement to my real work. It isn't. If I was writing my life as a story right now, work would be the main antagonist.

Here is me. I'm trying to do fantastically in both areas of my life, barely being mediocre in either one and trying oh-so-hard not to let depression get on top of me again like it did last year. Because I had a break, but it wasn't nearly long enough.

And so I write this post, to mark the day and make sure I start doing something about it before it gets worse.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Real life and Brave New World

Today, I started Brave New World. I didn't make any specific posts for the individual books I was reading last month, but I might make an exception here.

Being a fan of Buffy for so many years, of course, I can't read the words 'Brave New World' without thinking of Anya with her full vengeance demon get-up telling Giles what an amazing 'brave new world' Cordelia has all condemned them to in the episode 'The Wish'.

The book's got such gems as, "For of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently--though as little of one, if they were to be good and happy members of society as possible" and "That is the secret of happiness and virtue--liking what you've got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapeable social destiny."

It's actually really, really creepy, and I've only just got to the end of chapter one. 

Nevermind the fact that it's making me think particularly uncharitable thoughts about corporate workplaces. I've been a student too many years to think of the corporation as anything other than the devil, but I've been spending a lot of time at work lately, and this book is already making me wonder why?!

Of course, I know why. My fiancee is an enterprising young man and is currently about to thrust both of us into the business of being franchisee holders, which means all his extra time is going into spending money and all my extra time is going into trying to find more money to spend. Which means working more hours than I am used to. 

I saw a post on Twitter about a month ago congratulating anyone who manages to write professionally at the same time as bringing up kids and/or holding down a job.

I don't have any kids, but lately I haven't been feeling like I'm keeping my head above water with the expectations that come along with claiming you're writing professionally at the same time as holding down a job. It's been more like, 'Okay, Nikki, but you're a writer, really, so you just keep on making sure to write at least half an hour to an hour a day. Or promoting, even promoting during that time is okay....'

And that's one of the reasons why there have been less posts here. The last thing I want to do when I get home from work is sit in front of another computer.

Thankfully, we are almost at the end of it now, then I will be once more the active and amazing online presence that you all know me to be.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 2013 reading list

Alright, so March is done.

Media preview

I am absolutely looking forward to this month. My list may be a little bit ambitious, but we're going to see how we go.

First up!

5/5 stars. 10/10! Flawless read.

My YA novel for the month. I have heard so many great things about this book that I don't even know where to begin, so I will say again a huge big 'Yay!' for the reading party this weekend that ended up with me taking away a free copy of this novel for my home library, and I will probably be following it up with other books in this series pretty soon.

Brave New World.
3/5. Far from flawless, but I can see why this is a classic.

This is my group read of the month. It has also been sitting on my shelves for a long time, having people tell me that I really must read it, so I'm happy to be giving it a shot. I'm sure it will blow my mind.

4/5 stars. Some stories were really amazing, some were really gratuitous. 

This is a bit of a cheat book for me this month. I've started this book already, but I need a good excuse to finish it. Poppy's books are kind of like stepping into another world. Truth be told, I am a little bit worried about the shape my mind is going to come out by the end of this month... Still, in pages to be read, I'm more than making up for it with--

Ship of Magic.
4/5 stars. Not as good as her previous writing, but only just.

This book is on loan from a friend and if I don't start and finish it soon, he's probably going to take it away from me. As it is, he's already started asking why it was so urgent for me to get it to him when it's taken me two months already to even get to it. Not my fault! I protest, I love all books equally. I promise I'll at least start this book today. (Whether I finish it this month is a completely other story...) I absolutely loved Hobb's writing for both the Assassin and the Golden Fool trilogies, so I suspect it will be no hardship at all to get through the 880 pages this book boasts.

Dear First Love.
DNF. There is one book every month, and this was this month's.

This novel totally stole a title I would have loved to use but, if it's a good read, I'll forgive it. This book is my NA (New Adult) novel for the month. I totally meant to write up a post before the end of last month exploring the realms of this new genre that seems to have captivated the imaginations of authors and publishers alike, but somehow never quite found time for it. Hopefully I can find time sometime during this month. In between all these books...

Unbearable Lightness.
4/5 stars. Depressing, not particularly well written, but still completely drew me in.

Last, but certainly not least, I look forward to this book for so many reasons. A couple of them are personal, one of them is the fact that I'm really digging memoirs right now. This one has been sorta vaguely on my list since I saw it sitting on a shelf in a bookshop I used to work at. I have a lot of expectations for what I expect this book will be. If it makes me cry, I'm going to be real happy. If it makes me think and reflect, better yet. Just so long as it's written articulately, I'm sure it's going to be great.


As ever, for anyone interested in following my progress throughout this month, feel free to follow me on