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Work on the novel continues apace

A photo posted by Rhian (@rhian_bowley) on

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Are you there, Yahoo? It’s me, Flickr

Have fallen back into Flickr this week. I guess it’s an outlet for my snot-brain to get involved in something creative while I’m too ill to write much, even if getting involved simply means looking at other people’s pictures or uploading my old ones of Berlin. I tried to finally watch S2 of The Walking Dead, but I keep dropping off and then spoilering myself  by waking up at the end of an episode. So, the laptop wins over the tv for now. For all that I love Pinterest, Flickr has an edge in terms of showcasing images people have actually created, vs passive pinning, and it’s been fun to hang out there again.

Here’s a collection of some of my recent favourites. Lots of sun and beaches, fancy that.

flickr faves 190712

1. ., 2. Untitled, 3. Nā Mokulua, 4. Lemons & Garage Doors, 5. sweethearts just before the plunge, 6. Burst, 7. Space Sindy, 8. Stewy, 20 SIGNED John Cooper Clarke silkscreen, 9. grand central.

Flickr is where I used to live before Twitter, before Facebook and even before Myspace, and it feels out of place next to those modern belles of the ball. Kinda like that old friend you’ve known since you were 14, the one with no social skills and a terrible haircut, the girl you still love but don’t invite to parties for fear of what she might say.

I wish it had more finesse, options to set up wider filters than ‘friends’, ‘family’ and ‘contacts’- this is one place where the circles which infuriate me on Facebook and G+ could make sense. In many cases I’d rather subscribe to select parts of someone’s stream than their entire output. For example, I might choose to see everything a user tags with ‘film’, ‘beach’ or ‘graffiti’, but skip the photos of their children and their motorbikes.

I like the way casual snapshots sit alongside pro photography, and prefer it to the poncy show-off slickness of 5oopx, it’s just that there are better ways of handling that variety of content and every other social site since manages it better.

The Tumblr interface almost does what I want, in terms of sharing images and following other people’s streams – but it’s too heavy with teens and Manga porn gifs to work as a Flickr replacement. Nowt wrong with teens and Manga porn gifs – man, if Tumblr had been around when I was an adolescent I would have been obsessed with it, and my Plath-Gatsby-JMascis-Kerouac-Nirvana-Suede-badpoetry solipsism would have been a wonder to behold – it’s just not what I’m looking for right now.

C’mon Yahoo, please put some money and some new life into the site, I fail to see what else you have going for you as a company right now.

UPDATE – have just been sent this damning, detailed, depressing article on exactly How Yahoo killed Flickr.  Maybe it really is too late?

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Deerly Beloved

Well hello there, how are you? I am poorly, full of a cold and full of a tiredness that I totally deserve after a fabulous, fairytale weekend. I have a list of things to write about all queued up on my blog dashboard, stuff like YA dystopian fiction titles, some more bitchin’ playlists, other places I’ve been writing instead of here, posts about tarot cards and, oh, ever so many things. But today is not the day for those things. Today is a day for a picture of deer, taken this weekend while in Devon for a friend’s wedding. Beautiful wedding. Even more beautiful people. It was a day full of love. Aw.

dawlish collage

Rather than take pictures of the bride, or the castle, or the fireworks (!There.Were.Fireworks!) I snapped three men ignoring me (and looking very manly, don’t you think?), some deer from the castle’s deer park, and the train station sign. Dawlish train station backs straight onto the sea, which must make for a very pretty commute on sunny days. Summer being what it is, of course, we had moody clouds instead, but it was still pleasing for a tourist like me.

Devon was gorgeous, and reminded me of the smugglers story I want to write when Novel is finished, something with secret caves and barrels of rum and men with scarred faces but kind hearts. There will be some kind of mystery, and a storm. I can’t imagine writing anything but Novel at the moment, the work to do for this revision seems so endless and engulfing, but I know that someday soon it will be finished and so I keep list of stories to write once I emerge blinking into a post-revision world. Currently the top four items on it are “Smugglers, Sleeping Spies, Dragons, Romany”. I hope my notes still make sense when I refer back to them in a few months – though, some strange combination of all four could be a fun story in itself, don’t you think?

Enough typing – I think the cold medicine is wearing off. I#m going back to bed to watch Veronica Mars (managed three episodes yesterday, and we didn’t get back home until 4pm), eat pizza and trawl etsy for jewelry I can’t afford and maybe one or two things that I can. If you’re in Brighton, please bring me cake. If not, please eat some and think of me. Ooh, and put some clotted cream on top. I’d have photographed my cream tea, but was too busy eating it.

 

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Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton coverJust noticed that I hadn’t cross posted this review here yet – whoops. This was written for Slacker Heroes and first posted there in April.

I’ve just finished (and loved) Sacrificial Magic and Beautiful Creatures so, given that this one also has spells and magic in it, it’s fair to say I’ve been in a witchy phase this year. Way more fun than vamps & weres.

Have just checked Goodreads and the sequel to Blood Magic (The Blood Keeper) should be out later this summer – fab. I’ll definitely be reading it.

Got any suggestions as to other spooky-dark stories I can try in the meantime? Let me know!

Here’s the review –

It’s been a month or so since I finished Blood Magic, and I keep being disappointed when I pick up my Kindle and remember that I’m reading something else now, that I’ve left that world and those characters. I’d say that’s a sign of a good book, wouldn’t you?

It’s the story of seventeen-year-old Silla, a girl whose hands are heavy with the rings her father gave her, one for every birthday since she turned nine. A father who committed suicide after killing her mother. Silla was the one who found their bodies, but she’s sure there’s more to the events than has been discovered. She’s looking for answers in the mysterious book that arrived after their death. A book of spells written in her father’s hand.

Silla’s not the only one whose parents had secrets. Nick, the long-limbed new boy, has memories he’d rather forget, but coming back to the town his mother grew up in is stirring up the past and linking him to Silla in improbable ways.

So, we’ve got magic, death and secrets straight from the start. Yum! I’m a sucker for some good ol’ runes and pentacles, and the spells and rituals in this were very satisfying, very cool. We also get crows cawing and circling and beautiful, tree-heavy graveyards. These images are recognisable and classic, but felt fresh and aren’t something I’ve read much of recently, outside of Stacia Kane’s Downside series (which is definitely for an older readership). It felt fresh for YA, and the writing is atmospheric and compelling.

The narration swaps between Silla and Nick and it drew me in really quickly. I loved the way Gratton describes Nick, “He was so gangly and tall. Like half-grown animals, when their paws are still too big, and their legs way too long, and you know they’re going to grow into it all eventually and be the handsomest thing you ever saw”. I think it sums up the gawkishness of teenage boys very well, and emphasises how these characters are nearly – but not quite – on the verge of adulthood. I don’t think Nick would really be that into me, since he goes for bird-thin, blood-covered, fucked up 17-year-old orphans and I am almost exactly the opposite, but I’d still be happy to help him with his homework. Silla’s a teenage drama student whose parents both died recently in a gruesome murder-suicide, so of course her chapters are a little over the top with purple prose, but it works. It’s authentic.

Silla and Nick fall for each other very quickly – that’s not a spoiler, since their feelings are clear from the start. At first the speed made me twitch – was this realistic? – until I remembered high school, and how emotions, friendships, love and hate really did move that fast. I don’t know how we managed to pack in so much drama between Double Maths, netball and French but believe me, we did. A whole social network could dissolve and reform in a day, and people were always dating someone else’s ex or crush or brother or something – who knows why, did we think there weren’t enough boys to go around or something? Anyway. I don’t think a teen audience or someone familiar with that would find the speed of the relationship or the intensity of their devotion hard to believe.

The power of the spells and the shadow hanging over these two grows stronger with every chapter and I raced through to the end, despite the novel’s length. I see from Tessa’s website that there’s a stand-alone companion novel coming out this year, and I’m already looking forward to reading it. Another sign of a good book. Pick it up, let me know what you think. And if you see a strange figure in a graveyard, just stay away from it, alright?

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