Friday, 28 December 2012

Holiday Road Trip (Part Five and Final)

Ah, back to work today [insert sad face]. On the plus side, it offers me plenty of time to daydream and think about revisions and daydream...

Today is the fifth and final day of this Road Trip extravaganza, and hasn't it been so much fun? If only it was Christmas every week! (But no, I don't think anyone could cope with that.)


Today's Holiday Road Trip Questions Are:

Most Anticipated Book Releases in 2013



JUST ONE DAY (and JUST ONE YEAR)--hoping to love these ones just as much as IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT. I'm not even reading the chapters available online because I just want to devour it all in one go.



NOBODY BUT US--I've heard so many good things about this! Not long to wait, thank Jesus.




FAULT LINE--Can't WAIT to get my hands on this.


Most Recommended (By You)

IF I STAY. Yeah, yeah, you're sick of me banging on about this one, but it earned a place on my favourite's list and it made my heart hurt so much. Love.





That wraps that up...hope everyone enjoyed this! If you didn't, well--it's over now so don't worry. Ya scrooges.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Holiday Road Trip (Part Four)

TV and music and movies, oh my!

Today's Holiday Road Trip Questions Are:


Best in YA films/television:

1. Pretty Little Liars

Oh PLL, why can't I quit you? Even though your storylines have gone haywire and your continuity is virtually non-existent and there are so many characters I can't even keep them straight? I don't know. I just know that I once stayed up until three in the morning so I could stream the season finale. Did I say once? I meant twice.

2. The Vampire Diaries

If you love vampires and curses and hot, hot boys, then you need to be watching TVD. Done.

3. The OC

Okay, I know it's not actually on anymore, but The OC is SO YA. The angst level is off the chart! The romances are sweet, but also hot, but also complicated! The dialogue is fast and sharp--but that might just be Seth Cohen! I highly recommend that you watch this, especially the first two seasons. Because season three was still good but not on the level of the first two, aaaand letsbehonestseasonfourwasaclusterfuck.

4. And obviously the best YA movie ever, Mean Girls.

Do I need to explain?

No.

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Best Music to Write To/Be Inspired By

This question is almost impossible to answer without rambling for two days about Sufjan Stevens. But for the MS I just finished I was super into John Mayer's latest album Born And Raised, and I like writing to Explosions in the Sky because they're instrumental and still give you the feels.


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Holiday Road Trip (Part Three)


Hands up if you're in a food coma! There is too much chocolate going on in my house right now. Currently watching The Nutcracker on TV, before our family viewing of Die Hard (which I've never seen, can you believe it?) Yesterday's viewing was The Princess Bride, which I sadly slept all the way through...so I suppose it's a good thing I've seen it a hundred times before. Anyway, onwards to day three of YA Highway's special edition road trip:


Today's Holiday Road Trip Questions Are:-



Best "I Want To Go To There" Setting in a Book



Hmm...I didn't really read a lot of books with wanderlust-inducing settings or amazingly different worlds. So, I will say THE FUTURE OF US and THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER because they're both set in the Nineties and hello, you know I love the Nineties. I want to be in a world of Walkmans and real, proper mixtapes and phone calls on the landline (even though I despise talking on the phone). And who doesn't want to go through the Perks tunnel?

Favorite YA Characters



Everyone in THE RAVEN BOYS. Sean and Puck from THE SCORPIO RACES. (Not trying to turn this whole exercise into a Maggie Stiefvater appreciation fest, honest.) Adam Wilde (IF I STAY), Four (DIVERGENT), Parker Fadley (CRACKED UP TO BE). I could go on and on and on...




Check back tomorrow for the last day of the holiday road trip! 

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Holiday Road Trip (Part Two)


Back for more end-of-year goodness!




Today's Holiday Road Trip Questions Are:

Best Sequel

WHERE SHE WENT/THUMPED


Best Debut

CINDER/VICIOUS LITTLE DARLINGS


Books Not Normally In My Wheelhouse That I Still Enjoyed

THEN CAME YOU


Best Book Cover

THIS IS NOT A TEST


Hope everyone has had a lovely day!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Holiday Road Trip (Part One)



Hey, it's Christmas week, and because YA Highway is awesome they have decided to do an extra super duper special Holiday Road Trip! Oh yeah. I've just come home from a day of family fun in London (so much food, so much noise) and what better way to wrap up Christmas Eve than with this post?



Today's Holiday Road Trip Questions Are:

Best Book Of The Year

IF I STAY/THE SCORPIO RACES


Most Unexpectedly Delightful Book Of The Year

THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT/SECOND CHANCE SUMMER/BEFORE WINGS



Book I Can't Get Out Of My Mind

CRACKED UP TO BE


Best "New To Me" YA Author

Courtney Summers I LOVE YOU you life ruiner.



Alright, off to get lost on tumblr and YouTube SYTYCD videos and fall asleep. Goodnight, beautiful people!

xoxo

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

I Have Been...

1. Working. YES, that's right, some fool gave me a JOB. (Just a Christmas temp, but dollar is dollar baby!) Getting up super early (like ten to four early) is turning my writing to mush. I seriously, seriously bow down to everyone who has a real, important job and/or a family and manages to write on top of all that. Teach me your secrets, sorceresses.

2. Reading ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and A MILLION SUNS (which I won a while ago from the very lovely Sara Biren. Mmm, transatlantic books).



3. DRAFTING, ENDLESSLY. I had hoped to be done by now (this is why I will never NaNo...inability to meet goals). I'm trying to spin it--my first draft of THE GIRLS OF HOLLAND FALLS came in at 47k and it took me three months to write. On this WIP, I'm at two and a half months and 83k. So I'm actually kind of, maybe, sort of doing really good, in comparison? I didn't think I had the ability to write an 83k draft! What is happening. Seriously.

4. Getting my Christmas music on--it's December so this is finally acceptable. This right here is my favourite Christmas song (not even putting Sufjan Stevens in the mix, that wouldn't be fair to all other Christmas music) and I'd like to give thanks to The O.C./Alexandra Patsavas for bringing it into my life.



5. Taking a trip to Bristol for my pal Charlotte's 21st. Holy long queues no seats delayed trains Batman! We wore plastic tiaras and got mani/pedis. As you do.



6. Listening to The JV Club podcast. Oh. My. God. This is soooo good. I have had so many moments of "YES! THIS! YOU REALLY GET ME!" I found this from Her Life With Books' recommendation and I am so happy about it. Basically, actress/awesome person Janet Varney gets together with another actress/comedienne/writer and they discuss their teenage years. But they often go off on amazing tangents about music and depression and old journal entries and it's Just. Perfect. My favourite episodes (so far) are with Yvette Nicole Brown, Jen Kirkman and Alison Rosen, which I'm right in the middle of. Also Janie Haddad Tompkins. Also Alison Brie's made me CRY with laughter. (Sorry, can't pick a favourite, they're all too good.) Cannot express how much I love it.

So that's me. I think I do too many of these round-up type posts, but let's be honest, I know you're all on the edge of your seats wondering what I've been up to and wanting to know what music I'm going to tell you to listen to. Wait--what? What do you mean, you don't care?!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Home Stretch Distractions

I'm 50k into my WIP, enough closer to the end than the beginning to start thinking about finishing it and seeing the light at the end of the drafting tunnel. Now is the time to dig deep, concentrate on putting the words down, figure out how to wrap everything up in the best possible way.

I love you, Scrivener. I am mildly fond of you, 50,000 words contained within.

So of course, now is the time when I start being unable to think of anything but a new story.

Never mind the fact that after I finish this draft I'm going back to my Holland Falls WIP (WIP one, I'll call it) to do more revisions. Never mind that after I've finished those I'll go back to this WIP (WIP two) and do first-round edits. And then back to WIP one, and back to WIP two, and so on and so forth, until I start querying WIP one, which I really hope to do sometime in the first half of next year...

No, Brain just keeps ticking over, plotting new things, and new characters keep sneaking in and saying, "Hey, look at us! We're new and we're oh-so-pretty. Make a playlist for us! Make a Pinterest board for us! Think of ways to emotionally devastate us!"

But I say NO, new things. I will not think of you, I will not dream of you. I will keep on writing WIP two and you can just wait until I am ready to deal with you, whenever that may be.

(But, like, noting down a few things doesn't really count, does it? And making a new Scrivener doc to put them in is fine, right?)

(Oh dear.)

Monday, 22 October 2012

Full Disclosure

Hey gang. I'm loving a lot of things lately:

1. Scrivener. Loving the ability to split everything down into individual scenes and having a synopsis of each scene, and especially having all my notes and character profiles and outline in the same place. So much better than notebooks everywhere, and post-it notes that end up all over the kitchen, and random untitled documents.

2. Freedom. When I use it I definitely get more done, not just because I've shut the internet off but because I feel like it was so important to me that I work that I actually made a point of disconnecting, which makes me work harder. Bonus!

3. New desk/new chair: serious upgrade from my old desk, which was sort of broken with various nail polish stains on it and peeling plastic from excessive straightener resting. This one is all black and glass and super serious (and also an absolute Ikea barg, £30!)

4. Being 30k into a new story, in three--count 'em, three--weeks. This is a veritable miracle! Usually it takes me a few weeks to get to 10k, at which point I have a little break(down) because I'm not sure what I'm doing next. I've already waxed lyrical about my new love for outlining, and we're still going strong.

5.  Having time away from my last MS (as one is supposed to do). Being away from those words and being deep in new ones makes me feel like when I go back to it it'll feel so much fresher and I won't actively hate it anymore. (Oh, I don't really hate it. Not much.)

5. Coke Zero. Oh, I try to get away from you, but you are so gooooood. And I don't drink coffee or tea, and I don't drink alcohol unless it's Long Island Iced Tea or anything pink and even that's rare, so...I can keep this one vice, right?

6. THIS SONG/VIDEO (Latch by Disclosure & Sam Smith). Does it not just make you smile/swoon? Aren't the lyrics so good?

You lift my heart up when the rest of me is down and you, you enchant me even when you're not around. And I'm so encaptured, got me wrapped up in your touch and feel so enamoured, hold me tight within your clutch.

I am dying.

And the couple in bed? Totally my new WIP babies, Audrey and Julian, ten years in the future. Cuties.

Could I lock in your love?

What are you writing? What are you loving? What song makes you die of happiness?

Friday, 19 October 2012

Books That Hurt

Sometimes a book will get you right in the heart. Just like a song can (Sufjan Stevens' Borderline), or a film (the end of Garden State). So here are five heartbreaking books that I love:


1. IF I STAY--oh, God, don't even. I can't. The sobbing that occurred when I finished this book...so much so that I am afraid to start Where She Went, even though it's been sitting on my shelf for months and I really, really want to read it. I felt like I held my breath the entire way through.

2. CRACKED UP TO BE--can I just mention the one thing that really got me? The finger snapping. Do you know what I mean? I really think this book broke me. Horrible characters doing horrible things and trying to deal with the most horrible thing ever. Broken.

3. A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT--I love weird and different stories, and this one about ghostly people and disappeared spirits and love is just the best. The BEST.

4. MEMOIRS OF A TEENAGE AMNESIAC--I finished this, turned back to the beginning and read it again. Something about two broken people trying to fix themselves with each other...ugh. So good.

5. THE AMBER SPYGLASS--I WILL NOT ruin this book for you. I will just say words: Eve. Bench. Oxford. Hopefully if you've read it you understand what I'm saying.

If you haven't yet had your feelings destroyed by any of these books then I suggest you read them straight away. Who needs a functioning heart anyway?


Thursday, 20 September 2012

#revisionparty

I just this week finished a round of revisions on my WIP. Now it needs to go to CPs and betas! Oh, wait--I should probably find some CPs and betas first.

Anyway, here for your viewing pleasure is a variety of pictures documenting this revision process. (Taking pictures is a good way to procrastinate during revisions.)



Essential: a hot beverage in a Starbucks mug so you can feel like a real I-write-in-a-coffee-shop writer even when you're at home! I don't drink tea or coffee. I drink hot blackcurrant squash. Rock'n'roll.


I do love killing off scenes that I know are pointless. (This is chapter one dying.)

 Another essential: multiple notebooks, so you can find that one note you made late at night about that scene in chapter thirteen super quickly. (Will I ever learn?)

A desirable: cat to hang out with while you're ripping scenes apart.


At some point you'll need this:


or these:

because the fun will have worn off and you'll be crying over all your pages that look like this:

 But eventually it'll be over and you'll get to have fun again! Just make sure your fun doesn't end like mine always does: sitting on the street waiting for a taxi (that never arrives) at four in the morning.

 Sigh.

Sorry for not being around all of your lovely blogs, but Google is being a total skeeze and has ceased to work on my computer. No Gmail, no Blogger, no YouTube...no Googling anything! I'm stealing time at my dad's computer right now. I hope he lets me come back. He has a giant office chair.

[Currently listening to: Clique--G.O.O.D. Music]

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Thirteen Thirtyfive

As I was perusing the internet yesterday I came across this song on YouTube, by a girl called Dillon. I thought I would share it with you all because it's kind of melancholy, a little peculiar, it has some cool imagery...seems like it would be good for inspiration purposes or to put on a writing playlist. In the comments people were comparing her to Lykke Li, but I also hear some Joanna Newsom and Alessi's Ark in there, so if you like those ladies you might enjoy this :)

I think whoever wrote the top comment got it right: "This song is like lying in a sea of pillows and getting covered under a cloud of whirling feathers." Yeah, I'll go with that.



Monday, 27 August 2012

YA Book Club: This Is Not A Test

[Created by Tracey Neithercott...click above for more!]

All the feelings, you guys.

All the feelings.



THIS IS NOT A TEST is incredible. It's a zombie story, but it's not really about zombies. It's about what happens to people when they're put in a crazy, unbelievable, life-threatening situation.

Six kids are trapped in their high school, hiding out from all the dead people who keep coming back to life. Not all of them want to be there. Not all of them want to be stuck with the people in there with them. Sloane Price doesn't really care about anything but her sister and who even knows where she is?

Courtney Summers creates these characters who you want to like but you can't. Or you do, but you're not sure why. You start off liking them, or hating them; and then they do something to make you hate them, or like them; and repeat. And then you never know what they're going to do next: who's going to turn on who, who's going to go crazy(er). It will stay with you after you read it, take up a space in your brain, thinking what would you do? Trapped in a building, unable to go outside because, y'know, zombies; not knowing what's going to happen in the next day or week or year, wondering if maybe it wouldn't just be easier to die; doing things you never thought you were capable of because it's a different world now...

This book is tense, fast, sexy (don't ask me how that's even possible because I have no idea)...did I say tense? Parts literally had my heart pounding, wondering what was going to happen next, how everything was going to unfold. And can I just say how much I adore the ending? I adore the ending.

Courtney Summers makes me think that I can write whatever the fuck I want to but also that I should not write anything ever because I'll never be as good as Courtney Summers. Especially at zombies.

Have you read THIS IS NOT A TEST? What did you think?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Hearts

Today is Road Trip Wednesday :-) RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’scontributors post a weekly writing or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week’s topicInspired by Stephanie Perkins’ post on Natalie Whipple’s blog, what is your novel’s “Love List”?

So your "love list" is all the little things about your WIP that you, well, love. You can look back at it at all those points where you hate writing and hate everything you've ever written, and remember why you want to write this story :) or something like that...

Here's mine:
  • Red lipstick
  • Friends
  • Cute boys
  • Cowboy boots
  • Rockabilly
  • Sisters
  • Dancing
  • Jeans
  • Music
  • Cherry pie
  • Karaoke
  • Conversations
  • Quiet car rides
  • Warm nights
  • Small beds
Now to check out everyone else's loves...

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Heaven

[Spoiler alert for a little Six Feet Under appreciation moment here...I will try not to put anything crazy in but if you ever plan to watch this series and don't want to know a single thing, here's your warning.]

Nothing I have ever seen - or read - has provoked such an intense emotional response in me as much as the ending of Six Feet Under.





The series ended back in 2005. I watched bits and pieces of the last few episodes because my mother was watching them. I was 12, I had no idea who any of the characters were or what the context was, but I watched the last ten minutes of the last ever episode and then I went outside by myself and I cried my eyes out.

I got the boxset of all five seasons and started watching them in October or November last year. Seeing everything unfold, getting to know the characters, experiencing everything that Six Feet Under is... this time, when I got to the end, even when I knew what was coming - especially because I knew what was coming - I felt that same heartache. Maybe even more, because I knew Brenda and Billy's relationship. I knew Claire and every little twist her life had taken. I knew Nate.

What makes this a great ending is the way we get to see how things will end, and we get closure, with none of the forced and unbelievable happy-happy that some books/shows/films end with. It doesn't fast-forward just ten or twenty years, so that we only see Claire getting married and finding happiness at last, or David showing Durrell the family business ropes. We see their lives play out until the end. Until death.

Because that's what Six Feet Under was about, wasn't it? Death.

But what really makes this perfect is that as we see Claire and Ruth and David getting older, dying, it keeps cutting back to Claire. Claire in her car, with the wind in her hair, driving to her future. And it's like they're saying to us, "This is what happens. They are all going to die. We are all going to die. But don't worry about that yet - that's in the future, not now. Right now, we're here. Alive. See Claire? She's on her to live her life in New York. None of this, what you've just seen, has happened to her yet. It's going to, but it hasn't yet. Now, she's still here. We're still here. Don't worry."


Because that's what Six Feet Under was about, wasn't it? Life.

In between 2005 and 2011, between the first time I saw the ending and the first time I saw it all, I must have watched the last ten minutes...oh, I don't know how many times. Ten? Twenty? Thirty? More? I don't know. But a lot. And tears, each time. More heartache, each time.

That's what makes it the best ending ever. My most loved. And then this, the words on the case of my boxset:

Everything
Everyone
Everywhere
Ends.

Watch this video, even if you've never seen any of the show before and you don't plan to ever watch it. Or even if you are planning to watch the whole series at some point. Trust me, it only makes it better.

(And that song, if you're wondering, is Breathe Me by Sia.)


Monday, 2 July 2012

Music Monday: Luxurious

If you follow me on Twitter you will know that this weekend I was watching the X Games.



The X Games is to me what beach volleyball is to straight men.



My heart truly belongs to this guy:


And those cuties would be Dylan Rieder, Nyjah Huston and Ryan Sheckler. You're welcome.


Onwards! Today was my first day of edits, which went brilliantly. (Was that before or after the hour-long nap I took? Hmm...) I think what I need is some music that I can groove to as I work. Cue Gwen:





Off to watch more Revenge...er, edit, I mean.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Look around you, we are in Hades!

This post has nothing to do with writing but has everything to do with The Holy Trinity. (Heathers, Clueless, and Mean Girls, if you don't know.)(And if you don't know, WHY ARE YOU HERE? We cannot be friends.)

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As we all know, Lindsay Lohan is on a bit of a trainwreck streak right now, and has been for the last however many years. Last week there was PANIC when she was discovered unconscious in her hotel room. (Don't worry, it was just "exhaustion".)(How come only celebs get "exhaustion"? You never hear about the woman over the road having to check into hospital for a night because she's suffering from "exhaustion".)(Wouldn't it be more fun if they were honest? "Sorry, such-and-such-celeb was caning it last night and went a bit too hard on the cocaine, but she'll probs be alright after she gets this IV put in." See? How much better is that?)

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Exhaustion...sure.

Anyway...while I was stalking Twitter this girl I follow tweeted: "Nooo if Lindsay Lohan dies my childhood dies #parenttrap", (or something along those lines.)

But I was thinking about this while I was doing the washing up the other day, thinking "Forget about Parent Trap, what about Mean Girls? That's her trademark film, really. Or it's the film I think of when I think of LiLo...imagine if every time I watched it I had to think about her being dead, that wouldn't be cool. And it would be weird, because Heather Number One [Kim Walker from Heathers] is dead, too. So Alicia Silverstone should really watch out, because someone from Clueless - 


Brittany Murphy."


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Do you see where I'm going with this? What if they're cursed?! What if Lindsay Lohan actually dies tragically young? One from each, gone. Maybe Heathers started it, what will all the murdering and such going on in that movie. And then what about the actresses from whichever future movie which will become "the new Mean Girls"? Well, my advice to all Young Hollywood girls is...don't take that part. It's cursed.


After all, Torrance did drop the spirit stick.*


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*I've always felt that Bring It On is unfairly left out. "You are being a cheertator, Torrance, and a pain in my ass!"

And why yes, I did just learn how to put gifs in Blogger, because they were beyond necessary for this post...you're welcome!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Olympic Airways

This has been my view for the past two days:



Hanging out at a picnic bench in the park, with no internet and a summery playlist in my headphones.


And getting a lot of words written while baking a few shades darker in the sun. (With SPF 30, of course.)


Question: where do you go outside of your house to write? Sometimes I go to Costa/Starbucks, but those fancy drinks are expensive and they frown on you just hijacking a comfy chair. I also like to go the library, but apparently no-one knows that libraries are supposed to be a quiet place nowadays. (Also I have to pay to park there, what kind of joke is that?!) The park has been my favourite out of the three, but lack of warm weather prevents me from going there every day.

So where do you like to go?

Monday, 11 June 2012

Music Monday: Golden

Hello, lovely people. It's lashing rain today but let's pretend the sun is warming our faces instead.

Today I say to you, keep going. All you insane JuNoWriMo people, everyone querying, those of you with novels floating around on submission - or if you're just trying to write a little today, or to gather the energy to get out of bed - keep trying :)

I am sending every ounce of happiness and positivity in my body out to you, whatever is happening in your life, wherever you are in the world...look, do you see that little sparkle in the air? Catch it!




Sometimes it's easy to forget that life can be good, too. I forget all the time. Look at a happy photo, get reminded :)




What's better than handstands in the pool?


Nothing!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Let's Talk About Teachers

For today's Blog Me MAYbe, may I tell you about my amazing teachers?



I had AWESOME teachers when I was still at school (a massive two years ago). Mrs May was, I think, slightly insane, but in a good way. There was Miss Price who I suspect had a slight case of the raging feminisms. Some of them were super cute - my year 7/9 English teacher Miss Knowles, who is Canadian and the daughter-in-law of my across-the-street neighbours, and is basically now just my pal. Mrs Ferris was the kind that terrified everyone walking down the hall and still terrifies me when I see her doing her shopping. Miss Cain was also very scary, and since she was one of my A-level teachers there was only seven of us in our class...hard to hide from her. And then we have Mrs Martin...ah, Christine.

She taught me for GCSE and A-level and she was my tutor: I suffered through her minibus driving (terrifying), her love of restoration comedy (torture), the time she made us all sit under two tables so we could feel what it was like to be in a slave ship (not a particularly successful task!). She never got too annoyed when my answer to, "Where have you been? Registration started ten minutes ago!" was, "Well, I left the house...we walked here...and here I am." She also never kicked me out for asking if we could watch a video, every. Single. Lesson.

They read all my weird stories, about volcanoes and treasure hunting girls, ninjas and the Yakuza, married assassins, mermaids...actually, I'm not sure how I came to write contemporary, looking at that list. But they read them and liked them, encouraged me and didn't think I was too weird. Without them - well, I'd still be writing, but I wouldn't have so much belief in myself. The last time I saw Miss Cain, she said she was waiting to see my book on the shelf, and I think I'm getting closer each day :)

Monday, 7 May 2012

Dust It Off Bloghop: Day Three

Today's task: Post what you learned from this WIP. You become a stronger, more rounded writer which each manuscript and we want to know what this particular work taught you. 





  • I think the main thing I learnt from this MS was that I could actually write an MS. I started it when I was sixteen, when the longest thing I'd ever written was a 2,000 word essay. I was so scared of the idea that I'd need to write thousands and thousands of words, I actually used to use this old blogging platform called Uber to write tiny sections at a time which I pasted into Word. Now I'm not afraid of the blank Word document anymore! 
  • I learnt that it doesn't matter when you write or how much or how long it takes; it only matters that you do write, and keep writing. I wrote and revised through my A-levels, which was probably not the best idea but it all came good in the end :)
  • And I learnt that sometimes you can't control your characters! You can't force them to do things just because it's what you want them to do. 
So that's that! I really enjoyed this bloghop, especially reading everyone else's entries (I still have to get round to most people's though...). Thanks to Theresa and Cortney for hosting, and thanks for everyone's comments on my pitch and extract! They were all so nice :)