jenniferkoliver: (Foo Fighters | Learn to Fly)
I'm never immediately sure when the cinematic cutscenes in The Order 1886 are finished and I'm in control of the character again. It's seamless. Visually this game is something else. (Here's the trailer if anyone missed it. Yeah, so the gameplay looks exactly like that.) It's boggling how fast game development has progressed even just in the last few years. It makes you wonder what games will be like in five, ten years time. :O

A few acts into The Order 1886 and it's enjoyable so far. The prologue is nice, though I don't think it does the visuals as much justice as it could--the scenes are shadowy and shaky and sparse, and the real wow! doesn't happen until Act I when you've flashed back. Galahad is a cool dude, the supporting cast seems intriguing, and the voice acting is superb. I really hope there's a lot of character development and emotional stuff to come; I feel like this game could blow the mind if the writing is as strong as the virtual world-building.

I'm a little disappointed by how linear the gameplay is, though. They show you this rich, complex and incredibly detailed labyrinth, but you can't really explore it in the way you want to. Just a little bit of freedom to wander side streets and pick up mini missions would probably make the setting more satisfying. I prefer having the option to occasionally deviate from the main story, do something else for an hour or so, and then come back to continue the main plot when I'm ready. Right now, it's very much like watching a movie, which in some ways is great, but I'm not really having to think too hard or strategise.

And on a different gaming note, Dragon Age Inquisition. Yeah, I'm terribly late to this party, but it turned out my PC laptop was unable to run the game when it first came out. There was a lot of sadface about this because some of my friends were playing it and having a blast (gaming envy, meep). But hey, I got a PS4 recently so I'm very much back in the game!

Party set-up for my level 16 Rift Mage: Varric for ranged, poisoned weapons, and a bit of stealthy goodness; Vivienne because as a Knight-Enchanter she is developing into a freaking godly one-woman-army; Cassandra because she's not a terrible sword-and-boarder, and damnit I've grown attached to her. We make a nice little team. The other characters are nicely distinguishable from each other, but I get stuck in my ways (for example, in DA:O it was invariably DPS!mage, Alistair, Wynne and Leliana). Initially it was tempting to go the Knight-Enchanter route, but I heard that running Viv in the party with you also as a K-E mage pretty much nerfs the game. Like, you could virtually go out with just you and Viv and take everything down. While that sounds instantly gratifying, I'm looking for a bit of a challenge, so in the end Rift Mage seemed the less easy option.

A few other things about DAI )

Also played a little bit of Destiny but that's one to be put aside for now. I can already tell that I'd get massively sucked into it and with current writing projects and general life stuff, there just aren't enough hours in the day. Sigh. :)

Also, even more sadface, a few weeks ago Cam and Seb put up their last episode of Top Five Skyrim Mods of the Week. Gah, I'm going to miss this show so much, and honestly I'm not ready to let go. :/ But best of luck to the guys and whatever they plan to do next.

Revolution by Xilent.
jenniferkoliver: (Wolves | Blah Blah Blah)
It's been a while since I've been able to share some good news here, but my short dark fantasy / horror story "Shuffle" has just been published at the wonderful Kaleidotrope magazine in their summer 2015 issue! I am beyond thrilled. The story is available online for free here:

Title: "Shuffle"
Author: Jennifer K. Oliver
Word Count: 3,300 words.
Summary: Post-apocalyptic story about a dead thing reclaiming its life and realising perhaps death is better.

There were a lot of incredibly helpful reviews of this story on the Online Writing Workshop and from Storyslingers writing group. Thank you to those who took the time to read and comment. And as always thank you to Yvonne Anisimowicz for the multiple beta reads. :)
jenniferkoliver: (Stock | Typewriter)
[ profile] getyourwordsout is back for 2015, and there's still time to sign up! I've done this challenge a couple of years running and it's a wonderful way of keeping on top of your writing goals. The community provides a very organised, supportive structure, with loads of different writing events, encouragement posts, as well as writing articles to help inspire or motivate you. You can pledge to meet various different word counts - there is something to suit everyone.

Towards the end of last year I posted a few short interviews at other blogs and venues, and since they are writing-related I thought I'd share them here:

First up is an author profile of novelist, poet, script writer and playwright Sue Ashby. Sue does a lot of invaluable support work and networking with writers in the South West of England.

Followed by another author profile of playwright Tony Benge. Tony has been writing plays for twenty years, and has been commissioned by the Library Theatre Manchester, Radio 4 Drama, and Manchester Open Learning.

And lastly, The Dorset Writers' Network did a Writing Lives biography on my writing group! This is the first in a series of group bios - one will go up every month. Writing Lives: Storyslingers.

Skyfire (King Trimble Remix), by Twofold.
jenniferkoliver: (South Park)
Happy New Year, everyone! I wish you all the good times, progress, and best wishes in the world for 2015. Let's hope it's a grand and spiffy year!

I plan to post more regularly here again, and share writing-related content as I was last year before Life got all distracting and I fell out of the LJ way. I hope everyone is doing great and had a good end to 2014.

I'll start off by mentioning The Write Day, a one day boost-camp retreat for writers in the South-West of England. It offers a light, airy space, time to focus on nothing but writing, and support from other writers. I'm booked on for Feb 15th and will be there with a few friends from my writing group. It should be fun and extremely productive!
jenniferkoliver: (Stock | Typewriter)
Usually, when a writer has finished a story or taken a story as far as they can, they send them out to critique groups or beta readers for feedback. As the author, it’s difficult disconnecting from a story’s headspace, and that makes it tricky to judge if everything is working. This is where critique groups and betas are invaluable: the fresh eye, the new perspective, the telling reactions. These all help author see where a story might still need work.

But there’s a big difference between a critique and an edit, and sometimes authors get back one when they really need the other. I’m going to talk about why, break down each one, and suggest things writers should do when approaching someone for feedback.

A critique is an evaluation. It’s a review where you look at the bigger picture and consider things like pacing, clarity, character motivation, character arcs, plot and plot holes, weak dialogue, unnecessary exposition, theme and motif. This is where you think about whether or not every chapter, every scene, every paragraph advances the plot. You ask if all the characters are pulling their weight. You ask what the writer is trying to get across. Think: bigger picture, overall story.

An edit focuses more on grammar, style, and punctuation. It picks apart paragraphs and sentences and looks for inconsistencies, repetitions, misused words, typos and spelling errors, awkward sentence structure, etc. It can expand to include suggestions on characters, dialogue, pace and plot, but these are generally smaller observations, on a paragraph by paragraph (or line by line) level. Think: details, fine tuning.

When you send stories out for feedback, be clear about the following:

1) How ‘finished’ is your story. It’s no good getting line edits on a first draft–it wastes everyone’s time. Ideally, you don’t want line edits until you’ve fixed the plot and characters. Plot and characters come first, and they should be analysed in a critique. Often revision is required, which can lead to whole chunks of a story being rewritten. How awkward when you have to explain to a beta reader who just spent two hours line editing your work that you’ve had to rewrite the entire story from scratch.

2) Be clear about what type of feedback you need. Specify the elements of a critique if your reader doesn’t know the difference. Ask questions (put them at the end of the story so as not to influence the reader before they start), and get them to write down their reactions as they read. Did their attention wander at any point, and if so, when? Were the character motivations clear and believable? Did the ending satisfy and tie in, at least a little, with the start? Was anything confusing? If the reader has never critiqued before, these questions will help guide them through it.

Writers become better writers much quicker through writing, reading, and critiquing. Editing will help teach you when to use commas instead of semi-colons, but it won’t teach you how to develop an engaging character with clear, compelling motivations, or sharpen your use of metaphor or motif, or just tell a damn good story. Semi-colons generally don’t sell fiction. Good stories do.

(Not, I want to add, that there’s anything wrong with a semi-colon! I ♥ them.)

If you’re a fiction writer, start critiquing. Do it every week. If you can’t find a fellow author to crit, then pull an anthology off a shelf and practise with that.

Here are some other excellent resources on writing critiques:

How to Critique Fiction, by Victory Crayne.

Nuts and Bolts of Critiquing, by Tina Morgan, posted at Fiction Factor.

15 Questions for Your Beta Readers, by editor and author Jodie Renner, posted at Kill Zone.

(Note: This post was originally written for Storyslingers. Cross-posted here in case anyone finds it helpful.)
jenniferkoliver: (Stock | Butterfly Hat)
(I swear, I've been doing other things lately aside from listening to podcasts. Anyway...)

Lovecraft's stories are always hit-or-miss for me. A couple of years ago, I went through a whirling reading fest over the course of about a week and inhaled as many of his stories as I could manage. Afterwards, I took a break and tried to sift through my feelings. For the most part, I came out of it frustrated--so much of his work is problematic and not easy to stomach, even given the period in which he was writing. At times it's racist, xenophobic, classist, homophobic; there aren't many female characters and women are under-represented; and it can be horribly purple at times. And some of his earlier work just isn't very good at all, on all levels. On the other hand, some of his stories are stunningly creepy and imaginative, and if nothing else, we can thank him for shaping what a lot of weird fiction and horror is today. There's a reason people still love to run around in his playground, and I think it's even more important to continue reinventing that playground, make it more accessible, diverse and consistent. But I digress.

I've been listening to and loving the heck out of The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast (otherwise known as H.P. Podcraft) hosted by Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey. Basically, they've gone through most of Lovecraft's work, providing readings, commentary, music and resources. There were a couple of stories I wasn't originally able to finish--The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath being one--but recently I've revisited them with the podcast providing a kind of Cliff Notes / York Notes version, with additional laughs and observations I hadn't considered. Chad and Chris also often give background info about the stories, like when Lovecraft wrote them, what he said about them in his letters to correspondents, which magazines they were published in (or rejected by!), and other works inspired by them. It's interesting listening, and Lovecraft himself becomes a more interesting character when seen through someone else's eyes. I noticed that they're currently doing works by other authors, too, possibly having run out of Lovecraftian pieces (they're currently up to episode 212 and still seem to be going strong!).

And, for anyone who hasn't tried HPL before, The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast is a terrific place to start, especially if you're intrigued about Lovecraft but haven't been able to find anything by him that's easy to get into (as I said above, he can be very hit-or-miss).

You can also find them on Twitter and their forums.

Euphoria, by Collide.
jenniferkoliver: (Stock | Book!)
So far this year, I've mostly been handwriting in Flame Tree notebooks. I got into Flame Tree a couple of years ago, when I was given one of their books - the one featuring Gustav Klimt's Kiss - as a present. Not long after, I picked up the Erté Starstruck book for its pretty art deco style cover.

The things I love about Flame Tree notebooks are almost exactly the same things I love about Paperblanks. They're sturdy, with magnetic clasps that close the entire book into a thin box, keeping your pages safe from the elements. They are shiny, tactile things, their cover art embossed so the act of simply holding them is a delight. The pages are lined, but the lines aren't too bright or dark that they're distracting. I've noticed that Flame Tree tend to use thinner lines, and their books are bigger than most Paperblanks, so you tend to get more on a page. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not: on the one hand, more words! But on the other, when a page is full and you're looking back through for something, you're confronted with lots of text -- and if you write like me, often in large blocks. They have two ribbon bookmarks, a cute but subtle "This notebook belongs to..." section right at the front, and they come with a pocket at the back built into the hardcover -- very handy for loose slips of paper, receipts, business cards, etc.

They come in a variety of sizes, too. I lean towards the 210 x 148 mm books, but the 178 x 128 mm are probably a more convenient size for writing on the go.

Currently I'm using The Great Wave notebook, featuring art by Hokusai. And next up, I have the smaller Contemporary Flame (Gothic Dark Lace) notebook, which is the ideal size for a purse or smaller handbag.

West Coast, by Lana Del Rey.
jenniferkoliver: (FFVII | Sephiroth)
Apparently there's a petition online asking Peter Jackson to change the ending of the third The Hobbit movie. I don't think he would do that (at least, I bloody hope not!) and I'm amazed that anyone's asking him to. If you don't know the fans' issue with the book, it's this, cut for spoilers ) Truly, I don't believe they'll reshoot a huge section of the movie at this stage; it would be utterly absurd to do so, simply to pander to a handful of fans.

To be honest, one of the things I disliked most about the book was that the final battle was glossed over. Almost all of the action takes place during a convenient fade to black after Bilbo is knocked out. He then conveniently wakes up right after the battle, in time to describe the aftermath. I hated that, but I understand that at the time The Hobbit was written, that sort of plot glossing was acceptable.

Obviously, it wouldn't fly today if Peter Jackson had Bilbo knocked out and then wake up post-battle, grab his pot of gold, and head on home with Gandalf. ;)

It's also been announced that the sub-title of the third movie, originally There and Back Again has now been changed to The Battle of the Five Armies. I'm trying to stay positive about how it'll play out, hoping it won't end up little more than a three hour long CGI fest. Difficult to tell at this stage. Interestingly though, Viggo Mortensen recently criticised the Tolkien adaptions for their blatant overuse of CGI and reliance on special effects.

I can't wait to see the third one and I'm sure I'll be a bag of wibbles. I just hope it doesn't finish in a confusing CGI mess, and gives the characters the endings they should have and the resolution they deserve.

(Related, in the last few months, I've posted some more Hobbity graphics over at my Tumblr here.)

My Dear Frodo, by Howard Shore.
jenniferkoliver: (Wolves | Wouldn't Like Me)
All caught up to the latest episode of We're Alive: A Story of Survival, the zombie apocalypse podcast / radio drama I blogged about before. The show ends in July; not much more left! They're going out with a bang in a live recording of chapter 47, a show that sold out fast, followed shortly by the release of chapter 48 - the finale.

I'm not despairing too much though, because there are tons of great podcasts to gobble. Here are a few more I'm enjoying:

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. This podcast began in 2005 and still goes strong. From their site: Dedicated to promoting critical thinking, reason, and the public understanding of science through online and other media. I love it because it debunks a lot of misinformation and crap that's put out there for public consumption. They don't pull punches, and I learn so many awesome science-y things. It's great. Free to download on iTunes.

The Infinite Monkey Cage. This BBC Radio 4 podcast is hosted by physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince. Witty, irreverent look at the world through scientists eyes. They have a host of guests, including scientists, authors, comedians, and musicians. The mix of science and comedy is refreshing and it's another one where I learn a lot of cool stuff I probably wouldn't otherwise find. Free to download on iTunes.

The Walking Dead 'Cast. Does pretty much what it says on the tin - covers the amazing AMC TV show The Walking Dead, featuring interviews with various people involved in the show (cast, crew and writers), episode breakdowns and commentary, and other undead news from around the world. Love it. Also available on iTunes.

If you know of any podcasts you think I might like (aside from Welcome to Night Vale) please let me know!

This Is The Thing, by Fink.
jenniferkoliver: (Stock | Typewriter)
Really excited to announce I've sold a short story to Kaleidotrope magazine, to be published in 2015. Next year sounds a long way off, but we're almost in June already, which is crazy! The story is called Shuffle and is a post-apocalyptic dark fantasy. I will update again when it's live. For now, here is an excerpt:

I think my name might be Sarauugh. At least that's how it sounds when I pull it up through frayed vocal cords. But I've also been Joe, followed briefly by Amelia. I was an echo of Dumaka, and for a few moments I was Frederick. And once, I was Mei for an entire morning.

I also posted a new article to [ profile] getyourwordsout about character naming. The community is locked to non-members, but I put the article up on the Storyslingers blog as well, available here: Choosing Character Names - Fun, or a Total Nightmare?.

Guitaring goes well! Me and my friend Becky Bye have been getting together regularly to jam, and we're currently working our way through blues scales, as well as putting together chords to make our own little tunes. My fingers are delightfully callused and switching chords has become way easier now I'm back in the groove. I don't know if I mentioned before, but I picked up an Ibanez Talman TCM50 semi-acoustic not long ago. It is a glorious thing. Beautiful, crisp sound, and a small body so it's easy for me to play.

Related, I recently saw this video of Jimmy Page playing an electric guitar using a violin bow. Very cool. The first few minutes are haunting.

So yes, things are happening! I have a couple more podcast recommendations lined up, which I'll post soon, and I still want to put up my (much briefer than last year) write-up of the Sci-Fi Weekender 2014.

The Fun Lovin' Criminal, by Fun Lovin' Criminals.
jenniferkoliver: (FFVII | Sephiroth)
Trawling through the iTunes podcast library, I stumbled on an audio drama called We're Alive - A Story of Survival, by Wayland Productions. It's a zombie podcast, but before you run for the hills, hear me out. It starts off as you might expect, but it quickly becomes clear that they're doing something a little different with the zombie post-apocalypse. For starters, it's done in the style of a fully realised radio drama, with an ensemble cast of voice actors, high-quality sound effects, a clever score, and even custom artwork for each chapter.

Though I'm only on chapter 16 right now, there are currently 45 chapters overall, so plenty to catch up with. Generally chapters are split into three or four parts, each part running from under ten minutes to around thirty minutes, which makes it easy to squeeze in on a lunch break, a car journey, a walk, or even just before bed.

The pros:

  • The sound effects are brilliant. Who would have thought that something that's usually so visual—walking, rotting corpses—could be way scarier when only in audio. And these zombies aren't the shambling, shuffling dunderheads you see in a lot of other venues. Think 28 Days Later undead who can sprint. Listening with headphones is absolutely the way to go—when you first hear the rapid thump-thump-thump of the monsters running at you, the sound growing louder and louder in your ears, it's terrifying.

  • Like I said above, they're doing something different with the zombies. So far, I haven't totally figured out exactly what the deal is—I'm not quite halfway through—but it's one of the main things that keeps me intrigued. I hope the payoff is good.

  • Apart from a couple of minor niggles (see below), the voice acting is fantastic.

  • The score is also very good, building tension or relief at the right moments. So far, there's only been one instance where I felt the background atmospheric music was out of place.

The cons:

  • Sometimes the dialogue is hokey. There are a number of cliches that could have been avoided, and at one point a character even says (narrating) that she goes on "an emotional rollercoaster". That old chestnut. But the podcast is otherwise quite slick and while it jarred for a moment, it didn't put me off.

  • Once in a while the line delivery is slightly awkward, and you can tell that the actors are reading from scripts. It's never so bad that I would stop listening, and generally they do an excellent job. It's just the odd line.

If you don't usually go for horror, or zombies in particular, but have always wanted to try some, this might be a good entry point. Its format sets it apart from many other horror stories out there. Plus, if it's the blood and guts visuals you tend to shy away from, you don't have to worry about seeing any of it here—only the squishy sounds coming from all directions. :)

You can find We're Alive on Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, too.

The Boy's Republic, by Deftones.
jenniferkoliver: (South Park)
After three weeks of having no internet at home, and only sporadically being able to take care of important stuff using a friend's wireless, I'm finally back online. Aaah! There's tons to catch up with and I'm happy to be back, but there's a lot to be said for taking a few weeks offline:

I've written just over half of my new YA novel. As I said in my previous post (all those weeks ago), I'm using the Rachel Aaron approach and planning every chapter and scene before I write, aware of exactly what I want and need to get across before I start. I summarise the action, jot down small dialogue exchanges, list the themes/elements I want to shine, then I dive into the document. And my daily output has shot up—some days I'm cranking out 3000-4000 words, where before I was usually a 500-1000 words-per-day kinda gal. I'm sure things will slow down when the draft is complete and I start to revise, but for now, it's all jazz.

At the end of March me and a friend travelled to North Wales to attend the Sci-Fi Weekender 2014. We nerded out over some stunning cosplay, and got to watch live interviews with Graham McTavish and Royd Tolkien. I also especially enjoyed Festival of the Spoken Nerd, and Robert Rankin. I'm going to make a separate post for all of this, though, as there are a lot of pics and things I need to compile first.

I also dug two classical acoustic guitars out of the loft and I've been playing a little. There are some great sites that offer free user-created tab, pretty much any type of music you could want. I've found some obscure things and am having a ball relearning how to play between life and writing. It's been about thirteen years since I played guitar with any regularity, and it's amazing how much I still remember (I can even pick out an extremely slow, clunky version of Asturias, which is astounding. I mean, mine's terrible, but I remember the notes!). It's all tentative right now, but who knows, I might get back into it and start taking lessons again.

And there's a new EXO song teaser: Overdose. *squee*

Dark Star, by Fightstar.
jenniferkoliver: (Vintage | Stressed is Desserts)
As a long time Ice Road Truckers fan, and fan of big, Transformery-looking things in general, I'm happy to be writing short audiobook reviews for Trucking Magazine (UK). My first review is for The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I wanted to start with a favourite and a positive note, and I have to admit, I'm secretly hoping Optimus Prime sees it and gives the book a try, if he hasn't already, because ahhh, the human condition! Next up, I'm reviewing Damned by Chuck Palahniuk, which I'm currently working my way through (and feeling quite mixed about).

Totally unrelated, I've deleted my Facebook account. It's been a long time coming. Facebook's a network I've never felt comfortable using, even casually. I never wanted to share any personal info, even under friends or filter. I hated being tagged, particularly placed at a specific location, and I hated having to manually remove tags about me. I don't like the format or layout, and I dislike how difficult they make it to leave. It got to the stage where I despised even having to briefly log in to reply to direct messages. So it's gone.

Saying that, I still have a Twitter and Tumblr and Goodreads and Last.FM and YouTube and DeviantART, so it's not like I can't be found. I'm sure all those are enough to be going along with for now.

It's strange that I remove FB from my life right as I begin researching celebrity culture for my new novel. But thankfully I'm more focused on the A-List celeb beast, rather than the Internet fame type, although I know it'll come up later. I've been following this in the planning of the new novel:

How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day, by Rachel Aaron. I also picked up a Kindle copy of the e-book which contains everything in Rachel's post plus loads more specific to plotting and revising.

Right now, it's mostly plotting and developing characters, with little bursts of happy writing in between. But I desperately want to get stuck in and mash some words—even now I can already see an increase in my output.

Cafe Del Mar (Michael Woods Ambient Remix), by Energy 52.
jenniferkoliver: (Wolves | Blah Blah Blah)
I banned video games from my house so I wouldn't get distracted, then the other day at Storyslingers a friend handed me Beyond: Two Souls and The Last of Us to borrow. I mean, it would have been rude to say no, right? ;) Anyway, I've been tentatively playing Beyond: Two Souls and it's amazing. I'll do a separate blog post about gaming soon.

Previously I mentioned a crisis of faith about historical fantasy, but to be honest there's been a considerable crisis of faith about all my writing in recent weeks. So I dug out The Artists' Way by Julia Cameron and took myself on a Writing Date to a local cafe. There was mild bustle. There was hot chocolate. And there ended up being about 500 words, which doesn't sound like a lot, but for me at that moment was a breakthrough. I'm also in the swing of doing Morning Pages again, and have uncovered a couple of incidents from my past that I believe have been blocking me from consistency in writing. Being aware of these mental hurdles means I can try to get past them when they arise. It's not always easy, but it's definitely doable.

Plotting of the new YA sci-fi novel goes great. And I'm so happy to be able to say that! For a time my main characters weren't giving me anything, but now they're blooming and becoming interesting people, and I'm starting to really enjoy them. This, like my historical fantasy, is a dual POV (one male, one female). I seem to roll that way with long-form. I like alternative perspectives.

This is so silly, but do you remember Gizoogle? It was a thing back in 2005 (I can't believe it's been that long!), and I had no idea it was still online and working. Gizoogle will translate a web page, Twitter stream, or segment of any text into gangsta speak. I ran part of my very British, very Victorian-era novel through it and might subject my writing group to the results next meeting.

Swords and Sociology, Redux - great blog post by Kameron Hurley about how too much technobabble can pull you out of a story. From her post: "It’s this obsession with details that the POV characters really wouldn’t 1) know or 2) care about."

Jodie's Suite, by Lorne Balfe, from the Beyond: Two Souls OST.
jenniferkoliver: (Jane Eyre)
Had a leeeetle bit of a crisis of faith about my historical fantasy novel, which I've given up calling "steampunk" for now because I don't think the steampunky elements are strong enough to really root it in the genre. I recently read a blog post in which Cassandra Clare mentions the difficulties she had pitching her steampunk prequel trilogy, The Infernal Devices, to her publisher:

"When I proposed The Infernal Devices my publisher was not thrilled. They told me historical fantasy didn't sell. I had to produce a list of YA historical fantasies that had been bestsellers to even sell the project. And I had already been a bestseller. I wrote TiD because I loved the idea and I really really wanted to write them."

Which made me panic think: well, if a NY Times bestseller has trouble getting a publisher interested, what chance do I have?

I feel a bit better about it after some time and mulling, and I'm not giving up on the historical fantasy because I believe in the characters and I think that some of the issues they face back in 1865 are still relevant to things young adults worry about and experience today, but it did put the wind up me to start my next big project in earnest, a not-too-distant future sci-fi. And sci-fi is one of those genres that's so broad and diverse it always sells; it doesn't seem as great a risk as a historical fantasy.

And here is a snippet from the first chapter I've written, which might or might not be the actual first chapter of the book:

The magazine ad shifts from soft, dreamy focus into vibrant detail. It's rendered in HD, a novelty for Mia who can only afford low-res mags that flicker with fuzzy, pixelated edges. The perfume bottle in the ad, transparent, tropical sea-green crystal shaped like a seahorse, seems to lift off the page, rotating to glint light as the word Aqualine fades up beneath it. Mia's never seen an ocean, but she imagines the perfume smells like it.

Magneto, by Brigade.
jenniferkoliver: (SPN | Dean & Sam)
OK, so Tumblr has eaten my soul. I've always loved graphics, photo editing, photo manipulation, playing with colour and texture, and fan art, which is probably evident from my occasional icon batch post here on LJ. But I've been getting into bigger fan works lately and Tumblr is such an amazing venue for it—both posting your own and finding pretties that others have shared. So far I've put up a number of fan graphics I've fiddled in PS based on The Hobbit, and there are now a couple of things on my Sherlock and Teen Wolf tags. I'm still getting to grips with posting text entries on Tumblr—it feels odd to mix the heavy visuals with the thinky stuff—but I reckon I'll grow more comfortable with it over time.

That's not to say I'm leaving LJ. I'm just spending more time on Tumblr at the moment.

In writerly news, I'm probably not going to Winchester Writers Conference this year, even though last year I had a terrific time, got some amazing feedback on the first few chapters of my novel, and made a couple of important connections. I don't have anything new to take this year, novel-wise, and I feel I'd only be resubmitting the stuff I've already submitted before. Plus the conference is not cheap, not even for the single day pass. So I think I'm just going to let this year roll over and go next year, hopefully with either with my current novel ready to go on submission, or a brand new novel that needs feedbacking.

Instead, I'm putting my squee into the 2014 Sci-Fi Weekender. Graham McTavish (Dwalin!!) will be there, as well as Robert Rankin who was so entertaining last year, and Royd Tolkien the great-grandson of J.R.R. I have a feeling it's going to be a Hobbity weekender, at least for me. ;)

Another Round, by Foo Fighters.
jenniferkoliver: (Sherlock)
It's taken weeks, a number of chats and emails with friends, and two full watches of all three series of BBC Sherlock, and now I'm finally ready to put down what I like so much about the show, and why I'd recommend it to anyone who isn't watching already or has convinced themselves they don't like gritty, quirky crime stories (which I thought I didn't, until now). And also some things I didn't like so much.

Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway: there are massive spoilers in this post. Also, before I ramble, I want to mention that I've been reading the original Arthur Conan Doyle books concurrently with the BBC version, and I find them vastly different in many ways.

I'm also including some pretty graphics I've made for Tumblr, if you prefer the visual side of things.

We've got a serial killer on our hands. Love those. There's always something to look forwards to… )

War, by David Arnold & Michael Price, from the BBC Sherlock OST.
jenniferkoliver: (Stock | Book!)
(This article was originally written for and posted to [ profile] getyourwordsout.)

There are loads of reasons to be a regular writer. Writing regularly makes you a stronger writer. Writing regularly makes you a more focused writer. It helps with memory and recall, and with spelling, grammar and punctuation. It can be rewarding. It provides structure. It's brain exercise, and that can only be a good thing.

Trouble is, it's not always easy to get into the swing of regular writing. I've struggled with it in the past, and I still do. We all have down-times. Things happen in everyday life that are out of our control, and sometimes writing is simply impossible. Once you fall out of your stride, it's damn hard getting back into it.

But there are things you can do to ease you into a writing life. And if you plan to have a writing career, you really can't afford not to write regularly )

Love Until It Hurts (Aurosonic Progressive Mix), by Headstrong feat. Stine Grove.
jenniferkoliver: (The Hobbit | Thorin & Smaug)
I thought my previous batch of The Hobbit icons were a little, ah, Thorin heavy. So I've had a go at some of the other characters (though OK, there are still a few Thorins. I CAN'T HELP MYSELF.).

Icon resources are listed here.
Please don't hotlink or re-post these.
Credit would be lovely!

Why Bilbo Baggins? That's because I am afraid, and he gives me courage )
jenniferkoliver: (Sherlock)
I've been enjoying Tumblr a lot lately, partly because I'm fangirling some new things (The Hobbit movies, and the BBC Sherlock series) and there's so much of it over there, and also because Tumblr feels like LJ used to. It's so quiet around here these days. I don't plan to give up my blog, but I definitely feel twitchy here. Does anyone mirror their blog posts to a Tumblr account? I'm wondering if it'll be worthwhile doing that from here on. At the moment, I'm mostly talking about fannish things and sharing links here anyway, so it's not like it'd be out of place.

I've made a few new graphics of The Hobbit and posted them here—one of bitchy Thranduil, and another of Thorin, Fili and Kili. I'll use this tag with all my graphics, fanworks and published fiction, so they can easily be found.

So yes, as I mentioned above, I've watched the BBC show Sherlock. My god, the storytelling is good. The film-making is so, so good. The acting is beyond superb. Everything, everything. I'm avoiding the deepest depths of the fandom because I'm quite sure it'll drive me barmy, but there are little bits and pieces on the fringes that are fun—lots of gifs and pretty things popping up on my dashboard. Damnit—I don't need another show! (I need a Mind Palace.)

Possibly more about this later.

To Build A Home, by The Cinematic Orchestra.


jenniferkoliver: (Default)
Jennifer K. Oliver

March 2017

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