Friday Five

Photo credit: James Morgan

Okay, so I’ve stolen the idea of ‘Friday Five’ from… Many blogs, probably.
But let’s not dwell on that; let’s get to the linky goodness. Five fabulous distractions for your Friday afternoon:

1. The picture above is from this Guardian article about the Bajau sea nomads. I just found it in my saved links folder (meant to write about it here ages ago) and was captivated all over again by the description and photographs of the Bajau’s way of life.

2. Weird writing habits of famous authors… Should I be worried that none of these seem particularly odd?  

3. I will probably never go to Las Vegas, but if I fall into a portal or win a holiday or something, I will definitely visit the Neon Boneyard; final resting place of ‘retired’ Vegas signage. If you have any interest in retro glamour, design, typography or the unusual, go to idsgn and ogle the pictures.

4. An excellent work-space for a nature writer. [Happiness Is]

5. Word-nerd alert! Mental Floss lists 15 foreign words which have no direct English equivalent. I particularly the last one:

15. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.

Mmm… Grief bacon. *Drools*

Revision Hell: An update

Well, I’ve started the (rather wonderful) Storywonk Revision Class and have got serious with my WIP…

A week ago, it looked like this:

And now? I think I’m going to need a bigger cork board…

I’ve revised books before. I’ve even attempted something similar with index cards and coloured pens but, well, I’ve never got this far with it. I’ve allowed myself to stop when it got too difficult, when the number of ‘scenes’ that turned out to be fragments became too depressing, when my plot (or lack of) was too stark. Not this time. I’ve cut those fragments. I’ve scribbled over chunks that no longer fit the story. I’ve powered through to the (very) bitter end.

And, you know something? It’s going to be really helpful. Yes, I already knew that the last third of the book was a God-awful mess, but now I can really SEE the mess. Better yet, I can see possibilities for fixing it.


Craft round up

I’m still neck-deep in my novel revision and that, coupled with the school holiday, means I haven’t had an awful lot of spare time for crafting. I’m still (slowly) knitting, but in the time it’s taken me to advance a scarf a few inches, my daughter has learned to crochet and completed a stripy hat.

Still, there’s always time to scour the internet for new projects…

If you’re also short on time, how about sewing a skirt in an hour? The video tutorial is here and it (should) be a quick and useful make. [Via Craftzine]

This pixel painting project is one to do with the kids – and the results are super-pretty, too.

Finally, this beautiful card wallet is a good way of using up smaller pieces of fabric and the tutorial looks easy-to-follow. Visit Very Berry Handmade for more.

Right. Back to work…

The next best thing to going to Hogwarts is…

… Eating it?

Perhaps not, but this reproduction of the battle-scarred school is pretty impressive, nonetheless.

It was made from sponge and icing by Charm City Cakes to celebrate the New York movie premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

Tomorrow I’m taking LD (LovelyDaughter) to see the film and I don’t think either of us could be anymore excited. Not even with the addition of cake.

Hope you’re all having a good weekend!

Author Interview: Keris Stainton

I’m very excited to introduce my very first author interview on the blog – YA author, journalist and blogger, Keris Stainton.  

Me: The book is set in New York and one of the main characters is American, but it all rings absolutely true.  Did you do a lot of research and was it a nightmare getting the language right?
Keris: Thank you. If watching American TV and films counts as research then, yes, I did loads 🙂 I also asked on Twitter about certain words – “Would an 18-year-old American boy say this?” It was funny because I’d almost always get a lot of different answers. But it wasn’t a nightmare – I really enjoyed it. The only thing was – still is, actually – panicking that I’d got something wrong. I noticed Finn using the word “tap” in the very final run through. Faucet! Not tap!

Me: The setting of the book is a triumph. The city feels more like another character than mere scenery and I’m guessing you’re a fan of the place. Could you tell us your favourite things to do, see and eat in New York?

Keris: Thank you again! Yes, a reviewer described the book as “a love letter to New York” and I really think – hope – it is. I was obsessed with the place before I ever went there. When Jessie’s parents take the mickey out of her for pretending to live in New York as a child, that’s totally based on me. I first went there in 1999 and have been four more times since. I’d love to be able to go every year, but haven’t quite sorted myself financially for that yet!
I think I put almost all of my favourite things to do, see and eat in the book! The main thing I tell everyone to do is go to Top of the Rock. I’ve been up the Empire State Building a few times and while that is, of course, wonderful, I think Top of the Rock is better. It looks gorgeous, you get a breathtaking view of Central Park and you can see the Empire State Building (which is the one thing missing from the view *from* the Empire State Building!). The Roosevelt Island Tramway is fabulous too, as long as you’re not scared of heights (also there’s nothing to do on Roosevelt Island so you just have to turn around and come back, but it’s still worth it). Food-wise, you have to get a pretzel and a hot dog from a street vendor. That is a definite must. 

Me: What are the best and worst things about writing YA fiction?

Keris: The best thing is getting to create characters and settings and stories and then just live in them for a while. And getting sweet, funny, enthusiastic comments from readers. The YA blogging community is wonderful too. The worst thing? Same as any genre: waiting and worrying. 

Me: I know that you have two children and work as a journalist as well as writing novels. I am in awe of your productivity. What’s your secret? If there isn’t a secret (boo!), what’s a typical working day like for you?

Keris: Thank you, but it’s all smoke and mirrors – I’m incredibly lazy, honestly. I do very little work. I work well with a deadline so I can actually cram quite a lot of writing into a short timescale, but the rest of the time I don’t do much at all. I think because I blog quite a lot and I’m always on Twitter I come over as being a lot more productive than I am! My typical working day is spent faffing around online until an hour before I have to pick my son up from school and then going into a mad panic!

Me: That sound reassuringly familiar! To wrap up, can you give us any hints about the next Keris Stainton book?

Keris: I don’t know if I can say since nothing’s definite yet, but I’m hoping to write more books set in glamorous locations… Keep your fingers crossed for me! 🙂

Thanks so much, Keris!

As promised, you have a chance to win a (literally) shiny new copy of Jessie Hearts NYC.  Just leave a comment before the closing date (midnight GMT, Sunday 17th July 2011) and I’ll pick one name at random.

*Competition open to UK-only, I’m afraid.