#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 48

Full list of  questions here; last question here.

Week 48 | What are your goals as a writer?

So I would say primarily my goal as a writer is taken from the famous advice from Neil Gaiman: make good art. But mostly my interest is making other people feel something, to be engaged like how I was engaged. I’ve written before that I wasn’t an eager reader until I read the Harry Potter books. I much preferred TV and video games but the power of words were revealed to me. To immerse someone in my world, to connect my characters’ experiences to their own … I think in some ways that is the goal of any writer. I don’t really care so much about acclaim as much as connection, meaning. Speaking with people about their favourite books and what they mean to them is amazing to me. That’s part of why I’m a writer, why I’m interested in joining the publishing industry.

I want to give people hope. That might be too much of a reach but at the very least I want to convey that imagination is a wonderful thing. Simple but, er, big.

I hope this doesn’t sound super arrogant.
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#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 47

Full list of questions here; last question here.

Week 47 | Your thoughts on… queries and rejection

I’m taking it to mean how I will deal with querying and rejection.

I have been long term unemployed so I like to think that I’ll probably have a thick skin for rejection. It’s a given that you’re likely to get rejected when going about querying my book. Expecting it will help in steeling yourself for the inevitability of rejection. It doesn’t mean that it won’t hurt when I get rejected but being used to it will help to deal with that cocktail of emotions.

I think querying will be hard to do. Remember when I said that I struggled in doing just doing a synopsis? I’m going to need to pitch my book to agents with a summary in tow. I like to think that years spent writing cover letters have helped me to pitching my book. I’ve had to spend time selling myself which is anathema to me. I am better at talking about other things  than I am myself. My book is close to me but it’s not talking about myself.

The better parts of my writing circles are the mutual exchange of services: if you read someone’s book for feedback, they will read yours. Likewise, I’d like to think that having someone else help me with a synopsis might be something to overcome any difficulties in writing in entire isolation. For my ego, I will remind you of the kind words my friend said about my book.

I think I am ready for the grind of rejection but I just need something that I can send to someone. I hope that Draft 10 (overall across multiple titles) will be my golden ticket. At least the one that I feel is ready to send to people.

First Interlude: Hollow City

Hollow city,
you built me up all nice and bright
for all to see.

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Hollow city,
remember when you sang to me?
Your voice rippled the still canal,
refracting the joy of gods
and I felt sick
as we wandered around the Venice of the North.

Hollow city,
gave me life but
something’s not quite right.
We let the corrupt rule our conscious
and forgot what made us large
meaning that it was thin hugs as it gets dark.

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Hollow city,
carry my failing mind out to the sea.
I worry about the pale shadow that extends from my heart;
it infects all that I care for.
Cracking china, broken dreams,
breakfast in bed.
Wide open spaces and your silhouette.

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Could I get a moment alone—
A winter just for me?
Don’t I deserve to hunker down
and plant seeds for the coming spring?


You might remember fragments of this being interspersed in three of the seven poems I have posted. Here is the full version!

The interlude means that the first part of the project is complete! This will likely be the last poetry post of the year while I iron out the details for the second and third parts. Thank you for joining me so far. I’ll do a retrospective post on how I think it’s all going very soon. Take care of yourselves.

The importance of following your dreams | You are invited to the Acres of Ink Launch Party!

My extremely dedicated and wonderful friend has a great offer for you intrepid writers doing NaNoWriMo.

K.F. Goodacre

OK, OK, I know. It’s been ages since I posted on here and I’m sorry. The reason is because I’ve been preparing for a career change. A major career change. 

As some of you know, I’ve been slowly but surely gathering editing qualifications over the past few years. This is to complement my English and American Literature degree (and eight years of professional proofreading experience) so I can pursue my dreams of working in the publishing industry. 

So, after years of hard work and countless hours of practice, it is with great pride (and not a little apprehension) that I present…


Acres of Ink Editing Services

Helping fictional worlds grow, one sentence at a time

Acres of Ink is an independent service that provides proofreading and developmental editing for fiction manuscripts.


For those of you who don’t know, Developmental Editing is about seeing the potential of a novel as well…

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7.) Yet Another Derivation of Ozymandias

Dear beloved sweetheart bastard, I’ve gone.
A brutal tomb of shadow will soon claim
my form, carrion to be feasted on
by trees of glass that will all look the same.

You were great Ozymandias, built from
stone, the Colossus, sealed by me with glue
for winters, spent idling until numb:
the pain was supposed to be bitten through.

Clay can be shaped into anything but
it deceives and buttresses expressways,
steel-bolted towers that are grown from ruts.
They will stand tall, and can never be swayed.

Even today you’re still stuck in my lungs.
The truth of you lies heavy on your tongue.

Two Years!

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Just a brief one today. I officially started this blog two years today! Although the seeds of the idea were planted before that and I didn’t start posting until 2017, it’s two.

You can expect a full introspection for the end of year wrap-up which I am getting ready to prep for its December release. I’m quite happy with the way it’s all developed over the years: a sort of digital recording or extension of my mind. I do want to get back to the essays because they’ve been neglected. I keep saying it and I never end up finishing them. They require a lot of work so I will look into the seriousness of getting into that for real. I want to write these again alongside the fiction and other blog posts. But in terms of other content, I think I’ve found my niches. Now I have to figure out where it’s all going. Thank you for following along so far. Here’s to more years!

Liebster Award Nomination

I was nominated for The Liebster Award 99 million years ago by my buddy Alex over at Bookish Leftish Gibberish which is much more reasonable than he himself would probably credit it as. Go for rants about politics in the UK but stay for the interesting insights and great writing tips.

1.) Choose a superpower to be given to both you and a random person you don’t like.

The ability to slow down time. But not for the world around other people so we have more time, around us, so we go slower. It’s completely useless hahahaha. What? I wouldn’t want someone I don’t like to have an advantage.

2.) Which old-timey writer do you most wish was around and making dank memes today?

Mary Shelley, mayhaps. I think she’d get some pretty dank memes. I just recently watched Pride & Prejudice so maybe Jane Austen: she has a hand for conveying the absurdities of society and she’d be a welcome memer. If not, James Baldwin. He’d create that hilarious risky content that people are thirsty for in a very divisive age.

3.) Link to the content you’ve made that best represents you, and explain why.

Hmm. As it stands, this poem about Edinburgh perhaps gives you a flavour of who I am in a lot of ways. It’s the blueprint for all my poems. My answer, though, has to be this one as it’s a more extended and personal take because it’s literally about my various relations (real and imagined).

4.) What’s the most significant thing you’ve changed your mind about, and why?

Good question. Tough one. I change a lot so it’s hard to keep track of all them let alone the most significant. But I would say a significant one would be regarding my ability to write essays. I was fairly disenchanted towards the end of university for my perceived lack: that I wasn’t going to be an academic as a safety net. The key problem lies in safety net instead of being serious about academia. While I got my desired result I thought I couldn’t continue at more advanced levels. I was burnt out.

But the logical consequent (I saw) to my disenchantment was that I couldn’t put my skills to use and try to engage people. But I had a knack for synthesis and a desire to write essays. I didn’t need a degree to allow me to, I could do it. I don’t think my project to write in public is far-reaching but has some uses. Trying my hand has made more confident about my judgements so I would say it’s been great to have this flawed but important journey.

5.) What are the best and worst parts of online culture?

Pros: Connectivity, the ability to make friends you otherwise would not have made, a dearth of information readily available at your fingertips.

Cons: F a k e  n e w s, THE A L G O R I T H M S which help give space to only the most polarising views which in turn drops nuance out of the equation in the face of very complicated issues. Look, we’ve always enjoyed the sensational but the ways in which our social media has been built exaggerates this propensity to worrying degrees. When I see outrage, abuse, and death threats becoming the norm when people don’t like shit I despair. Social media platforms have set up an unwieldy beast. (Looking at you, Facebook.)

6.) What book is overrated?

I dunno if there’s a book that I would say is particularly overrated because it’s so personal. I reviewed Never Let Me Go after being intrigued by its universal acclaim and was a bit disappointed, to be honest. More so for me, though, is True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey. I read it years ago and learnt later it was a Man Booker Prize winner. I found it to be turgid and exhausting. More adult eyes might change that (I did read it in English nearly a decade ago and analysis has a way of sucking the entertainment out of a book for) but still. MAN. I could not rationalise why people loved it so much.

7.) What book is underrated?

Anything by Jen Williams or Bradley Beaulieu. Being a quote-unquote “genre” writer already puts you in the fringes of the literary world but even then they’re carving out an admittedly respectable space. Still small, though. Dana Spiotta is another one. Her style of writing is definitely not mainstream but it’s immensely perceptive and humane even if it does get caught up in itself with its more abstract ideas. Stone Arabia is a book that I keep thinking about often and is one that  many potentially interested people will miss because of its lack of mainstream flavour.

[Fun fact] A long time ago, I considered writing a post on these very same authors on this very same topic. Don’t know if my blog as it exists now has that kind of real estate but I have thought about it.

8.) Is there a widely hated book trope which you actually like?

Interesting question. I don’t know is the short answer. I don’t mind fragmented narratives, to be honest. Some people hate the lack of focus but I’m partial to something with an interesting structure so long as it’s not all about the fact that it has an interesting structure. Infinite Jest has a structure that is as interesting as it is frustrating, for example.

9.) Pick one thing to change about human biology.

Gills. Water-adapted gills. Like how our hands get wrinkly in enough water, we get gills when we’re water long enough. I think that would greatly enhance our relationship to the ocean and be more empathetic to aquatic animals.

10.) What’re you listening to lately?

Many things.

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by Outkast. Or trying to (it’s 2 hours long, lol). If you want an ambitious hip-hop album with a lot of range, this is your kind of music. Music to dance to, reflect to, bob your head to.  Guarantee you’ve heard a good portion of their hit songs: they’re all on here (“Hey Ya!” anyone?).

Seven Swans by Sufjan Stevens. Stevens is perhaps best known for his master work Illinois, a brilliant piece of music, but Seven Swans (released a year before) is a very stripped-back and intimate album and is arguably him at his best.

For My Crimes by Marissa Nadler, but also weeb shit I’m not confident enough to post about.

11.) I’m to do this:

nbqdusw

I choose Earth. The others are weirdly specific and I kind of enjoy not having to worry about diseases fucking me over, especially as I start to age. I could help in research for diseases in that case! A cold is unpleasant but I can deal with it over being at risk by something more life-threatening, ya dig?

I am nominating:

K.F. Goodacre
Diario de una Adventurera
S.E. Berrow (I know you are on hiatus and you definitely do not have to do this but it would not feel right not nominating you)
Harli V. Park
Words & Music (Mike Power NYC)
The Critiquing Chemist
Life of Chaz
(And anyone else, if you want it.)

And I am asking you:

1.) Everyone you love is gathered at your funeral. What are they saying about you?
2.) What thing do you value the most in life? What would you do if it was taken from you?
3.) Pick an album/piece of music that reflects you well as a person.
4.) Your proudest piece of writing has been taken by your enemy and it’s blowing up and gaining them immense acclaim. You have the chance to reclaim what’s yours and clear the air but it comes at the price of never writing again. Do you call your nemesis out?
5.) What location (city, type of structure like a house, etc.) would you say is your ideal one? Why?
6.) The trajectory of your life is determined by a fortune-telling. It’s accurate and will 100% occur if you hear it but you cannot chose what it is. Do you accept?
7.) What one thing about the world would you like to change? Why?
8.) How are you doing? Tell me about something you’re thankful for today/recently.
9.) What piece of art changed you as a person the most?
10.) What memory/period in time would you visit and why? (NOTE: there’s a catch with this. You can only go back to a time that happened during your lifetime, although you can select something unrelated to your life entirely, for example, meeting JK Rowling before Harry Potter was published.)

 

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 46

Full list of questions here; last question here.

Week 46 | Speak about someone else’s WIP

So I’ve already kind of done this for S.E. Berrow’s The Mayor but I’m gonna be sneaky and repost it on here as well.  


So You Want To Read The Mayor, huh?

I’ve known Sally (or S.E. Berrow to you mortals) for the better part of a decade. A friendship that has bloomed to the point where I am trusted to read her WIP is an honour I don’t take lightly!

The Mayor is a deceptively simple tale. Plot-wise it certainly might appear to be: an insular community has a violent shake-up from a new arrival, but that is where the simplicity dies. What you’ll be exposed to is some very complex characterisation.

I’ve said to her many times that she has a way of inhabiting her characters’ state of minds to a near-uncomfortable clarity — you really get a sense of the emotional and physical state of them, feeling the “lived-in” experience, almost as if you are there. Every ache and blemish is computed. I love the melodrama, the witty (and sometimes crude) dialogue, and how easily this could sit on the screen. Honestly, I can see actors in wigs and 18th century-finery charting the slow and dramatic collapse of the relationships in the tale. BBC drama, wherefore art thou?

The characters are satisfying to observe. By far my favourite is Jonathon “J-dizzle” (my addition) Carson, the wayward younger son of Jeremiah Carson, a rake who wishes for freedom and experience unlike his more fastidious brother Jaspher. Between them is the manipulative and bored Melora Winship, best friend of J-dizzle and subject of deep infatuation to Jaspher. All of the characters are pitiable as their stories unfold, all except for one swaggering monstrosity: William Goddamn Kale, aka. Bill, aka. Distasteful Creature, aka. Fuck That Guy.

I have created a holiday to help temper my searing hot rage: International Fuck Kale Day, a daily holiday where humans all around the world come together to express their intense hatred of him. Such is the skill of Berrow’s writing to create a character so distasteful but not to feel like he is a caricature. Cold, ruthless, calculating, competent, he is all you want in a villain. And, loathe as I am to say, he is one you love to hate (I’m never going to hear the end of this). His machinations pave the way for the wider story and he will be the linchpin to their unveiling. I usually can predict where stories can go, which isn’t a problem for me*, but I really lean in when I can’t easily guess. The wider story is a mystery to me and I can’t wait to explore its depths.

From the coastal colony setting, with pirates and magic surrounding it all, there’s a very Robin Hobb flavour to it all. This is something to her credit: many years prior, I read Hobb’s The Liveship Traders upon Berrow’s suggestion and the influence from Hobb is unmistakable. The setting, and focus of character… The Mayor is also much leaner.

I’ve read the draft so it’s very much unfinished even with The End being written down on the story. When she pares down the wordiness, smooths the edges on some of the characterisation, and polishes it up, we will have a very good book become a brilliant book. Did I mention the characterisation? Damn her characterisation.


*It’s not a problem for my enjoyment, I think I meant to write here

This is a fine case of Past Oran providing for Present Oran. 

Until next time!

6.) Meditations on a Modern Person, or, The Many Masks of a Mortal

The masks:

1.) The brother

Broken dreams are actually just out of focus
rather than scattered
or forever out of reach like stars.
These are the dog days, I know, but they’re
hours from ending.
everything can change in an instant, so rest when you can.
Remember these words.

2.) The friend

From the depths of my heart my loudness
rises from enthusiasm only:
I am your champion always
even when the banks break in the storm.
Never just take my word for when I am here, I am here.

Don’t let go of kindness.

3.) The son

Sometimes silence speaks more than sound
over the din of your panic–
night is a curse to you.

Kryptonite.

Now it is my time for innovation
out past haunted shipyards of the past.

Speak your pride with me.

4.) The cousin

Stuck facing the rudder
It’s been eleven years since I saw you last.

Babbles become speech that billows my mast.

I’ll be around every winter
but think of you always before.

5.) The nephew

Ropes slice in childish storms.
Waves higher than the farthest you can see.

Your cheeks bear the memories of salted raindrops
And we gaze at the horizon’s mystery.

6.) The grandson

Chains rattle in your voice
At the sun-scorched farm left behind.
Sacrifice is revealed through
silence,
past the crashing waves,
pain secreted below decks.

We all far from home
and somehow have still arrived.

7.) The best friend

Friend of many
but trust only few
you are my spent gladiators.
I will stand watch, bloody-knuckled.
While you sleep at last.

8.) The artist 

You have but one obligation,
one goal to keep in mind
you are your own Northern Star
your reminder of difficult times.
Say it with me, lest you forget:
Make. Good. Art.

9.) The lover (?)

Sweat-stained,
ideas atrophied
eyes stoppering shoes,
melodic laughter replayed at night
(this decade’s best hits)
your hand brushed my knuckles once.
See, my problem is that I thought I had a positive message,

A half-swallowed promise, waiting to burst free
but all that was clogged stands empty
I’m sorry.

10.) For you all

No star too bright for me to offer shade,
no heart too broken to be filled.
A good future is on us to build.
You are worth a value infinitely greater than you are paid.

All self-loathing will be put to the sword,
know this as certainly as the sun is bright:
I will do anything for you.

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 45

Full list of questions here; last question here.

Week 45 | Tell us about… Travel in your novel

Travel’s a good one because it’s something that used to be a big thing in the Three Kingdoms. I think I mentioned before that travel had become a big problem in the region because it’s magically powered not like oil- or electric-based. That magic has become imbalanced, which means that technology sometimes works and up until the beginning of Umbra mostly doesn’t, so is unreliable. This isn’t the only complicating factor as there are other things such as tensions between various nations. Plans for a railway between countries had been in the works for ages but because of threats of war, these never get properly underway. Before, many people got around in aircrafts (dirigibles if you want because that word is cool) but the magical imbalance means that they crashed mid-air and that’s if they got off the ground to begin with. Because of that, other nations don’t visit by air in the more, in fear they won’t be able to return home. Trade happens via the sea but during the winter months, storms and choppy things make things difficult.

As for what are still things, sailboats are still in use, as are horses. That means international travel is still possible, if a little slow. Most people travel across the region, though. Horses are being bred in larger swathes to meet the demands of travel, as well as carts and carriages. Alvayne are a rarer and more reliable form of transport. They are a lupine relative that are about the rough size of an epicyon (literally “more than a dog”).

epicyon
Epicyon versus the average wolf

See, I had initially thought of alvayne in relation to dire wolves but dire wolves were in general an inch or two taller at the shoulder than a grey wolf and a decent bit longer. I think that’s largely to do with fiction’s depiction making them much larger than they actually were.

Anyway! The epicyon, another prehistoric type of canid is closer in size to the alvayne of my mind. Their noses are longer and their ears more plumed than the epicyon but the size difference in negligible. Their bones are dense which means they can carry adult people with ease over long distances and at a pace with horses. They’re also less easily frightened than horses although they cannot carry as much as one. Natural predators, they are great in battle. The only drawback is that they are very rare so only nobles or people with the right connections have access to them, unlike the more common horses, a native animal. The alvayne that appear in Umbra actually dwarf alvayne; the actual alvayne are a type of megafauna on Delka can get to 6ft at the shoulder (so on all fours)! Dwarf alvayne are abandoned pups of their various deficiencies like shorter bodies, multiple tails, etc.