Bookkeeping

Cleaning out my bookshelf has been an emotional event.

I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in the generation who love and adore Toy Story, or because humans pack-bond with just about anything, or even if it’s just because I was probably a busy, heavily scheduled child and spent a lot of time with my belongings as opposed to people- but what happened is… I became very much attached to all of my belongings.

Sometimes its sentimental, other times… I spent money and I didn’t want to confirm that this money has been wastefully spent or misused.

Books have been… very important my whole life, and I’m blessed now that I get to work in this industry. My home has two bookshelves, one upstairs, one downstairs, both of which were previously housed in my room, but are now out in the communal areas of my home. On these many shelves, often double-stacked. Lay 90% of the books in the house… of these books, again, 90% of them were mine. The other 10% comprised of my brother’s small collection of teen horror, fantasy and spy books, and my mum’s holiday reads that she never quite got around to.

The first thing I noticed was that I had had some of these books for…. Years and had probably never touched them since the first time I read them cover to cover. There were books I have had since primary school…. Chronicles of Narnia, Rhol Dahl box collection, a whole lot of Enid Blyton… Stories I remembered fondly, but didn’t really want to revisit. I had and will continue to carry the memories and feelings but I don’t need the item myself. I can pass it on and give this experience to someone else.

The second thing I noticed, was how many multiples I had collected. Mostly given as gifts, or maybe I forgot that I had the same book at home and bought it again. No, they were not signed, no they were not different, no they were no more special than the other copies. They were exactly the same. It’s a bit mad to see all of my books spread out in front of me. Like… I truly didn’t realise the extent of books that I was holding onto because as a self-labelled “book worm” I felt that to give them away or throw them out would damage my imaginary cred.

Sorting through the books there were originally three categories:

1 Books I’m going to keep.

2 Books that are going to my cousin’s school (primary school) in Trinidad.

3 Books that are going to charity.

When I was finished sorting the books, I then damp dusted all of the shelves and some of the books. Before putting the Keepers back on the shelves. That left me with seven boxes full of things that I was letting go. One huge book (more like a mini-crate) for my cousin’s school and six books that were going to get donated. My local Cancer Research charity shop had asked for donations… boy I had a lot of them.

Only my mum asked me to put some thought into it. Six boxes of books are a lot to donate to one place. What else could I do with these books to spread out the joy?

The first thing- one of my Work Aunties TM from Sierra Leonne was fundraising for her former secondary school to get a library. Yes, I had to look through all of these boxes again, but I found that there were enough books for tweens and teens to fill two boxes.

Next, what about my cousins back home? About all the family who visit the house and would maybe like a way to pass the time? Again, another huge box full of things that I thought they would enjoy, that I wouldn’t mind revisiting on the holidays I take but wouldn’t want to keep for myself.

Which left three boxes for my local. Something a bit more understanding that as the new year starts people start throwing out and donating things or dumping them on these charity shops. We dropped them off today. Tomorrow my Work Auntie TM is going to collect the books for her school. The books that are going to the house in Trinidad and my cousin’s school will be sent along with the next set of barrels.

The way I felt at the end of that three-day deep cleaning of my books made me feel so good.

I always thought that I’d feel pained to remove books from myself, which was one of the reasons that I was so hesitant to finally tackle my bookshelves. Also thought I’d be one of those minimalists who had one thing that they would continue to splurge on, this thing being books and stories.

I always love collecting a good series, and I imagine I will continue to do so… most likely in an e-book format (though to be honest I am particularly weak when presented with a beautiful hardback or paperback).

Through the screen, face to face

Hey Everyone.

I’m currently in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago again.

First and foremost- Trinidad and Tobago are below the belt… I think, so I am safe even though this particular hurricane season has been disastrous for so many other Caribbean islands.

I’m here for the reason I thought I was here last year. My cousin Latoya’s wedding. She has been married for one week! But there’s some new and exciting things that happened this year around. I met mi tia y prima from Venezuela! For the very first time! (my grandpa sowed wild oats aplenty in his youth, okay,).

I have also spent time in the house that I used to spend every summer in (my paternal grandparents’ house) for the first time since the both of them have died, and it was a little emotional to see the little changes like room layouts, and I almost cried to see my grandma’s sewing room is still the same, even though no one is a professional seamstress in the family anymore. My cousins are growing, their kids are growing. I am still Aunty Fifi.

But I’m also Fayolita now, and my grandpa is so happy to see his daughters and grand-daughters meet face to face and not speak through a google-translated mess through a screen.

At Latoya’s wedding reception, there were a set of speeches. Ones from the wedding party (Maid of Honour and Best Man) but also from the immediate family (Mother of the Groom, Father of the Bride) before the floor was opened up for guests to give some well wishes. My Aunty Fran said that I should go up… but it was so short notice and I didn’t know what to say, also a bit shy to speak to a room full of people who were now my family that I didn’t know.

All through the night (when I wasn’t dancing), I was thinking about what I’d say, If I’d had the guts to go up to the podium and give a few words. These aren’t those exact words that my brain was working on, but it is the sentiment and all the emotion behind those words.

Despite all the advances in technology that connect us worldwide, sometimes watching someone grow and evolve through a screen- whether a video or phone call, pictures shared on social media and private messaging- made me feel still disconnected. This had a lot to do with time differences, distances in miles and work schedules disrupting what could be daily catch ups. In preparation for Latoya’s wedding, I didn’t feel any of that. I was there with my mum in the wholesale store every weekend looking for that perfect white lace for the wedding gown, I was updated with pictures of the wedding party’s looks evolve from concept to creation.

It was the first time I flew alone to Trinidad. I had always flown with someone, my brother or my parents. In line for customs (with my Trini passport) I see Latoya, on her last day before her holiday for wedding prep waiting for me and the two of us burst into the biggest set of grins and jokes that lasted from the line, to duty free, to KFC (if you haven’t had KFC in Trinidad, you’re missing out) until my Uncle Derrick picked me up. I was so happy to spend this time with her.

For those of you that don’t know, living as far from your family as I do, means that a lot of the time, the reunions are at extremely sad events such as funerals.

In 2014, the year I graduated from MMUC, my family lost three extremely important elders and these were people who have been caring for my mum, and for her children since birth. Aunty Neslin the day after I finished my exams, Aunty Wilagnita three months later and Uncle Raymond two months later, around Christmas. It was a very painful year for us all, as every time we were coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, death visited us again.

The Maid of honour said something extremely beautiful, that years from now the bride and groom would look back at their wedding day as the day that they loved each other the least- meaning that their love would grow stronger everyday. And I feel as though this is something my family is trying to make work for us.

We’ve been visiting each other more frequently since then. No longer are we saying “we have to stop meeting like this” at wakes, because we are. And watching Latoya get married, and seeing everyone so together, for a moment of togetherness of joy rather than grief. I only hope my family gets to enjoy moments like these (weddings, engagements, birth announcements, christenings etc. etc.) more than funerals where our togetherness was bittersweet with the tragedy of death pulling us to each other.

IMG_0522
Wishing years of happiness to you both!

Standing in the Sun

I’ve forgotten how to deal with UK weather.

I spent three weeks after my dissertation hand-in in Trinidad and Tobago. It was the first time I had been back since I went with my dad to bury my grandma. It had been seven years- for perspective: at my grandma’s funeral, my cousin Dominique was five or six month pregnant- two weeks ago, I was getting called “Aunty Fifi” by several new (second) cousins under the age of six.

It was a moment of celebration. When I graduated my BA, my dad took me to Malta for a fortnight and we enjoyed a little bit of European sunshine while we could. MA completion got a level-up for vacation, and timing was perfect. My mum’s birthday was in October and she wanted to spend it with her family, we also wanted to travel somewhere and see family without the sad knowledge that we were also there to say goodbye to someone who had only been a collection of pixels on our screen as we face-timed or a voice on the phone that sometimes cut out due to connectivity issues.

My grandpa was in the family home my mother grew up in. He was planting all sorts of fruits and vegetables that would make their way to our table, and he was also taming a wild squirrel who know has their own dining plate on the mango tree overlooking the football field. Every morning I had omelettes or hard dough bread with butter and cheese, or just whole avocados sprinkled with salt and fresh lime from the tree in grandpa’s growing garden. The whole time we were there it was changing, air conditioning, building plans proposed, rooms becoming fully furnished, I got to see my mum project her vision on what a true family house could be for everyone who stepped into the house escaping from the cold countries that they’d all migrated towards for opportunity.

Every day, I spent at hours in the sun. Reading, walking, talking, sitting, playing.

And I was wearing bug repellant because those damned mosquitoes followed me around singing “fresh blood! fresh blood!” in my ears morning, noon and night, while leaving my cousins the locals alone for the time being. Everything tasted like the sunshine, the coconut bake, the coconut, the fruit, the cakes and sweets that my grandpa would call me over to taste with a smile wide on his face. When I looked into the mirror I could see the proof that the Caribbean sun was cooking me to the perfect shade of a rich brown that I was supposed to be as dictated by my genetic make-up and erasing the sickly yellow-looking tone that I’d gotten from too many years under overcast skies.

Then, three weeks later. After a slew of birthdays, weddings, cousin introductions and a mini-vacation to Tobago… I had to say goodbye. Again.

The day we left, my Aunty Yvonne joked “I don’t know why you’re spending time inside. Shouldn’t you be outside soaking up the sun?” She was right.

Even now I regret that I didn’t spend more time soaking up the sunlight, basking like a lizard in the driveway with maybe a sorrel shandy or a bowl of mango chow.

Things are darker quicker. The sun feels so weak in comparison, even when magnified through the glass of my bedroom window. The wind isn’t a comfort when it passes and sets the cold back into me. The sky is grey, even when it’s not “overcast” in comparison to the blues and pinks and oranges I used to see from the front porch at my mother’s side. The food doesn’t taste as delicious.

It is winter, and Christmas is approaching.

I’ve been working two temp jobs that require me to be indoors for most of the time that I’m awake. I only see the sun when I’m coming home mid-morning from my night shift and in the early afternoon as I get ready for a full shift at my other job. The brown shade I acquired is fading, though I’m still not as pale as I once was.

Most of all, I miss standing in the sun and the connective feeling it inspired deep down in my being to the land that my parents affectionately call “home” all these decades after leaving.

Balloon Jokes

Everyone knows that really cringe joke about the family of balloons right?

There’s baby balloon, mummy balloon and daddy balloon. The parental balloons are sleeping in bed when the baby balloon decides they want to sleep next to their parents- but there is no space for them in the bed! So, they deflate daddy a little… still not enough room. They deflate mummy a little, still not enough room- and so, baby balloon deflates themselves.

The parental balloons wake up in the morning and realise what has happened the night before and daddy has to have a stern word with his child! 

“Son,” he says (in all the versions of the joke I’ve heard baby balloon is assumed to be a boy, probably because sexism and male seen as the default BUT THATS NOT THE POINT) “Not only have you let me down… You’ve let your mother down… and most importantly- you’ve let yourself down.”

It is supposed to be a ha-ha balloon parenting joke, because he disappointed them but he also deflated them! Hilarious word play. On an average day, I’m so into wordplay. On the majority of days this summer though…

Not so much. I’m no longer crying all the time- which is great. But I am sleeping a lot more, and stressing so much over things that are taking me forever to address. I can’t really tell the time, because it seems like a bit of a blur and also- time isn’t real.

And yet, I am giving myself the stern talking to that daddy balloon is giving his child. I am wondering if this behaviour is letting down my family- but most importantly myself.

When I graduated from my English and Philosophy degree with a 2:2, I felt like a failure. I know now that I wasn’t, but I’d expected a 2:1 and was told that you know, after university you won’t be considered for a job if you got anything less than a 2:1 (thats how common the degree was getting amongst applicants). After a year of, struggling to break into the field I wanted toLondon, I decided to start an MA course to improve my “employability”.

This time last year I was accepting my place at Kingston University and contacting my old lecturers for educational references. This year, I’m staring at a half-written dissertation and wondering if I did well enough to get a passing grade, and if my overall grade is worth getting a private loan for £8k.

Transitional periods are scary. Despite being 23, there’s nothing I’d like to do more than crawl into my parents bed and hide from the world in that tiny safe space. Maybe one day I’ll be able to laugh at the balloon joke again without igniting anxiety and causing me to doubt myself.

Stretched thin: A learning curve

It’s summer term.

Well, it would be the summer term, if I was still taking classes.

I’ve learned about my limits. I’ve learned about prioritising. I’ve learned about self care.

So, after the Easter break, I had an overloaded schedule. I was travelling and working almost every single day of the week… and I was not coping well. What exactly was taking up my time?

  • Researching and writing assignments for my MA.
  • Attending the final few days of lectures.
  • Working 3-4 days a week at my university on a charity campaign.
  • Interning 3 days a week at a company in North London.
  • Babysitting after these various classes and jobs.
  • Looking for & applying post grad jobs and internships.
  • Trying to squeeze socialising into the few hours I had to spare.

I don’t want to complain about it, because I signed up for all of this. I was stubborn. I refused to reach out for help, or prioritise properly out of pride, and to be honest I suffered for it- but damn, did I learn.

Basically… I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating right. I only had one working hand and, to be honest, I’m still working on rehydrating myself because despite all of the above, I was still trying to act like I could handle it. Like I wasn’t struggling. Like I had the time to go out with friends and attend events because to present anything other than the image perfection (even if I was failing to juggle everything) was something I could not do.

I need to be able to understand that while I can do so many things at once, doesn’t mean that I should– especially when I’m trying to perform at a high standard. Because I’m still recovering from a burn out. So I need to learn how to say “No.” Which funnily enough was one of the things we were taught on the course, clearly it has taken a while to sink in.

I need to be able to ask for help. Suffering in silence is not cool, it doesn’t make me stronger- only tired. Despite my broken hand, I was still trying to perform as though I had both hands at my disposal. And never actually able to reach those goals, which had me feeling down because I knew people who had situations that I saw as “harder” than mine continuing to do great things- and I’m terribly self-critizing. And I’ve not been able to break the habit of comparing myself to others just yet.

I need to feel comfortable unplugged. I spent almost every waking hour on the in front of a luminously bright screen, which did not help me get as much sleep as I needed. (I believe it has something to do with the blue screen?) I’ve recently downloaded a set off applications that mimic artificial light when the sun goes down- so that my brain knows the time to sleep is soon. I’ve even started to leave my laptop downstairs and my phone across the room instead of giving into temptation of accessing them when I’m frustrated by how long it’s taking for sleep to visit me.

I need to make time for myself, I need to take care of myself. It’s not normal to literally be crying over spilled milk  (in private, quietly and ashamed) because everything else has you so high strung that a small spill feels like the end of the world. In joining my council library, I’ve given myself access to thousands of books with no extra stress on my wallet, which has given me the opportunity to actually read for pleasure with no guilt, and I have never been more thankful.

And now, as my load has lightened, I honestly do not need to put myself through so much stress again in the year. Having this experience so close to the three months that I have to  work on my dissertation? I’m trying to find the silver lining. Kinda succeeding too.

 

I only wanted to see the study zone

 

Why am I like this?

What is self control (in relation to books)?

Clearly I don’t have any…

It all started last week, when I realised I had only one week left to have any reason to travel to Kingston from my house in SE London… I have a dissertation to write, and I can’t justify travelling for an hour to get to the lovely post-grad library section on campus… I can’t work at home because procrastination is the devil incarnate, (suddenly, all my chores seem more important than my education somehow…)

So I was out buying last minute cheap additions to my costume (don’t ask) and I decide to stop by the local library.

Let me tell you, I haven’t used a council library since I was 8 and my Greenwich Library card was terminated because I was a child who used to keep books forever and/or damage them so badly that my parents had to buy them from the library. Greenwich council, I am sorry, please forgive me.

I used my secondary school library a lot, I became the best of friends with the librarian. Our friendship meant that I could spend my lunches hunched over a book or watching the star wars rap flash animation instead of standing around in the cold (or pollen or heat, depending on the season). I got first pick of the new arrivals, my opinion was valued, how many other 14 year olds answered questions like :”Is this book (with a sex scene) too mature for your age?” on weekly basis? (The answer was always no, because the smut available online was way more graphic than the brief paragraphs in question)

I looked at my local library as I walk down the highstreet… it just looked sad and small, but apparently one of my university alumni recommended it as the  place to write a dissertation when summer comes around. But… it still looked sad and small, so I went to the library 5 more minutes away.

And I fell in love again.

I only went in to see their study zone, on a whim. Instead, I have signed up for a Bexley Library Card. The librarians were so nice to me, they gave me all the information I needed to know  about the Bexley Libraries and I got their sympathy and well wishes as my broken hand is always a conversation starter- even though it’s a boring story.

So now I can take out 12 books at a time for at least three weeks. For my purse and overburdened bookshelves, this is a bit of a godsend. I was even shown to the YA department… where I browsed diligently for 15 minutes before picking the top 4 books that I needed to read ASAP and take off of my TBR list:

  • The Art of Being Normal | Lisa Williamson
  • Vanishing Girls | Lauren Oliver
  • I’ll Give You The Sun | Jandy Nelson
  • Stars Never Rise | Rachel Vincent

I’ve already read them all.

I know I was trying to read a book a week this year (and I’ve been failing), but it seems like I’m catching up on lost time. It’s turned into a book every other day right now. On my return to the Library I’m going to observe the Sci-fi Fantasy section… I’ll need you to pray for me and my bag next week, I’ll probably take home the full 12 books of my allowance.

For real though, I’m so glad I stepped foot into a non-school library for the first time in however many years again. Looking forward to my TBR list shrinking further and making friends with the librarians (maybe they do placements? who knows?). Anyway, now I have a beautiful addition to my keychain.

2016-05-12 19.12.30

Things getting left behind in 2015

  1. Not drinking all the water I should be, replacing it with soft drinks, booze or orange juice is no longer an option.
  2. Spending my days off dozing in bed instead of exploring my city and my interests.
  3. Putting off these driving lessons because I know that one day I will not be relying on my parents to do all the “big shops” when I want specific things.
  4. Not putting myself out there socially- small social circles are cool, but it’d be nice to spice it up every now and then init.
  5. Procrastination- My biggest weakness to date…
  6. Saying I love books but not reading anything new – I want to read at least 2 books a month (I mean, I’m aiming for a book a week but still)
  7. Buying things I want, but don’t need and can’t really afford.

 

Wish me luck fam…

Halloween Special: Closet Costumes

October is the month of costumes and masks. Why?
Well, there’s the ever growing popularity of the super-Americanized Trick or Treat Halloween… and on top of that, October is the month of the autumn MCM expo in London.

In fact, these two events literally occur a week apart this year- last weekend was the final of the 3 days of the MCM Expo and Halloween is just around the corner.

I didn’t get to go to the expo this year, but I’ve seen a lot of friends uploading their pictures of the intricate cosplays and perfect character make up that took over the ExCel centre for three days.

I’m a poor student so money and time limit any chance I have of creating such a high quality costume in time for Halloween… But that’s not going to stop me.

With items only from the house wardrobes, I’ve put together a few costumes with minimal effort and time to share.

Please note that I have literally no fashion photography skills and do not hold it against me.


The Velma / Penny Proud

IMG_0704

The Velma is relatively simple and very recognizable. All you need is a red skirt, red shoes and an orange jumper. I already have glasses so I didn’t have to purchase any costume frames. Jinkies indeed.

Alternatively, with this same red skirt and shoes, you can pair a pink cardigan and a white blouse to emulate The Proud Family’s protagonist Penny Proud. You’ll be cute and loud and have it going on!!!

BBQ Uncle (tongs optional)

IMG_0711

No BBQ is complete without an Uncle at the grill who brings the best marinade to the table. You’ll need are a pair of light brown cargo shorts, some funky looking slippers or sandals (mine are my house Birkenstocks), a flatcap and a casual shirt.

If you raid your utensil drawer for some BBQ tools they will complete the look and your BBQ skills will increase by 2300 XP.

Mickey Mouse

IMG_0707

To create your own Disney Spokes-animal costume you need all black almost everything! You have to, of course, incorporate Mickey’s bright red shorts. White gloves and yellow shoes optional. I’m sure the second you have your ears on (hair in double buns work just as well) people will know exactly who you’re supposed to be ha-ha.

Princess Serenity aka Serena/Usagi aka Sailor Moon

IMG_0715

“Moon Crystal Transformation!”

Flashback to the nineties when a nine-year old child decided she was going to be a magical girl, defender of love and justice with the powers of the moon princess! Instead of the sailor senshi get-up, I’ve gone for classic Princess Serenity (pre-reincarnation Serena/Usagi). I just pulled out my most flowing white summer dress and you can mimic the character’s signature meatball head hairstyle very easily. You can age it up replacing white sandals for sparkly heels to upgrade to Neo Queen Serenity.

Uptown Funk Bruno Mars

IMG_0713

Too hot. Hot damn. You’ll make dragons all around the world retire in this super easy outfit. What do you need? White T shirt. Pink Pastel blazer. Black jeans (or leggings) and some chucks (or knock off converses). Pull the whole thing together with some sunglasses and pink hair rollers (or a fedora).

Persephone (pre and post-pomegranate)

IMG_0709

Pre-pomegranate Persephone, the goddess of springtime and maidenhood, Demeter’s beloved daughter. Get decked out in an all floral print ensemble and a goddess braid. Let’s encapsulate the image of a girl standing in the meadow that caused the God of the Underworld’s heart to race so quickly he spirited her away for a marriage that caused the first autumn/winter because Zeus forgot to tell Demeter he OK’d the wedding between her child and his brother.

IMG_0710

Post-Pomegranate Persephone will built up from the previous costume. I’ve got a dark navy cloak that is semi-opaque, you can still see the flowers of the dress peeking through the dark filter. More intense make up particularly around the eyes, contoured cheeks and a dark lip to give a show of the power of the woman who rules the underworld side by side with her adorable husband. Carry a pomegranate (or other fruit if you can) to symbolise the choice she made when she willingly entered the one of the most equal marriages in Greek Mythology.

Suggestion: Start off as pre-pom Persephone then change halfway through the night!

Wednesday Addams

IMG_0706

They say Wednesday’s child is full of woe. The Wednesday Addams outfit is literally so easy to put together and a real Halloween classic. If you have black tights and shoes, a black dress or shirt with white detail combo, all you need are the braids… and maybe a decapitated doll from your childhood.

Lara Croft  

IMG_0705

The first video game babe. While her original proportions are nigh impossible to achieve- her costume is not! You need a pair of khaki shorts, a grey vest and some hiking boots. To add to the costume you can get some really cheap toy guns and holsters from your local 99p shop or Poundland.

Netflix and Chill

IMG_0714

The ultimate in lazy costumes. I stole my brother’s house clothes, white vest shirt and tracksuit bottoms. Combine with a console controller or a Netflix title screen print.I’m keeping it rated U for universal, so there’s not a “five minutes into Netflix and chill he gives you this look” vibe.


Hopefully I’ve planted some creative costume seeds in the minds of my fellow skint students.

Comment below and share your own closet costumes!

I read over my most popular fanfiction. Why?

I do that a lot. Sometimes I enjoy it, most times; I cringe, I cringe so hard that I have toyed with the notion of completely deleting my account and destroying all records of my attempt at writing.

After all, I’m not a creative writing student, but fanfiction has been a big part of my life since, well, I was in secondary school. I posted my first ever chapter on a forum that was called BBRae4Eva, I think. And since then, fanfiction has been an anonymously accessed, never before announced activity that I take part it. I’ve written and published online 16 fanfics of moderate success from about 2004 to 2014 (with numerous unfinished sequels, prequels and one-shots that lie in the fiction folder on my desktop).

Now, why am I dragging myself through this 90K+ worded romantic adventure between my favourite crack pairing: Naruto’s Uchiha Sasuke and Hyuuga Hinata in a 6th form AU?

I've hidden relevant identifying information. Still a bit shocked (and proud) I managed 18 chapters and 92,981 words down though.
I’ve hidden relevant identifying information & highlighted my achievements. Don’t even TRY to look for it.

I’m about to start writing again. This time, not fanfiction. 100% original plot, 100% original characters.

This year I’m taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo to those in the know), it’ll be the second time I’ll be participating. And unlike last year, I plan on actually reaching the 50K mark within the month. So this is like a cram revision session for next month’s “test”.

Last year, I started and got most-a-ways through a post-industrial fantasy tale, based in a little town called Silverbank. I was inspired by a friend’s short story that I had read in my final year of university: in her story, education was the class separator (and to be honest, even in our society that is the case often more than not).

In my take, I followed a large family of seven, the Darzis. Aida the mother, a fiercely jealous woman still hiding grief and taking it out on her eldest surviving child. Kamal the semi-absent father, a seemingly ordinary construction worker who hides his ties to underground political extremism with the profile of an alcoholic. Taking inspiration from my family I gave all the siblings nicknames that were so often used, their legal names were strange words they had to remind themselves to answer to, which were only brought out through vexing parental lectures and legal processes.

There was Sugar; the eldest sister, beautiful and with a tragic past & present (& possible future). Sixes; the big brother, named for the 6 facial scars on his face (punishment for stealing from an orchard) dating the identical twin brother of his little sister’s beau. Sissy; Aida’s favourite and personality twin, big appetite for romance and about to embark on a shotgun wedding. Sweets; the MC (middle child AND main character), at the ripe age of 16 (perf YA MC age), entering the workforce and trying to not get romantically distracted by the other half of the golden twins of attractiveness while getting involved in all of the sibling drama and some of dad’s extreme politics. Sparkles; the youngest daughter with crippling low self-esteem but high expectations that depend on her above-average intelligence.  Shin; the sweet baby who becomes traumatized when forced to witness the outcomes of one of his father’s plots.

As you can see, I gave myself a lot to work with. Maybe too much to work with…There was supposed to be romance, conspiracy, drama, jealousy, death, suspicion. I probably got to slightly introduce these plot devices and maybe get a bit of the Darzis’ struggles in the 42K words that I had managed to splurge out. Let me tell you, Unnamed NaNoWriMo14 was what happened when you try to cram a seven-novel series into one.

This year I’m not going to do that.

I’m going to write more simply. I know my genre: my old faithful High Fantasy… but with a twist.

Yes, it’s going to feature Medieval inspired European background. Instead of the foreign brown savages with strange customs and social structures that get introduced to the main character who becomes the very best, like no one ever was, somethings are getting flipped around perception wise. My new MC, the beautiful Kewoya’ana is transported via magical portal to a world of  stone turrets and corset-wearing courtesans, “dashing” knights, and gets to overthrow some totally un-righteous rulers in order to set up a treaty between worlds.

And now that I’ve explained the basic plot, I’m really hoping that it doesn’t end up too much like Wurst and Feist’s Empire Trilogy set in the Riftwar Cycle.