Monday, October 14, 2013

Courthouse Blues


Today I was down for jury service. I'm pretty sure that I am one of a handful of people who actually want to do jury service so I had my fingers crossed.

We all gathered in the assembly room where we were told there were two High Court trials running that week. One was lasting a week and the other eight weeks. This news was greeted with groans.

They did the ballot for the short trial first, drawing out about 20 names for the jury to be selected from. They all got badges and were taken up to their court room during the ballot for the long trial. Apparently it went quite straight forward with only one challenge for the first thirteen names called out. So eight fulfilled their jury service by simply standing in a court room for a wee while.

Then it was the ballot for the big trial. There was a good chance my name would be called because there were between seventy and ninety names to be selected! And it was. We we're read the list of witnesses in the assembly room because there were 200 of them! That led a few people to approach the court staff to say they knew some of them. They were told if their name was called they could ask to approach the judge to ask to be excused. Because it was a long trial anyone who would be disadvantaged by having to sit for eight weeks was also told to ask to approach the judge. Then we were also advised that anyone with English as a second language and might have trouble understanding was also to request to approach the judge. This became even more important when we discovered that some of the defendants required an interpreter!

So once everyone was advised we trooped up to the court room. The lawyers and the defendants were already present. The judge came in and then the charges were read out and the defendants were asked how they pled. Once this was done it was empaneling time.

It started out well with the first two or three names getting to their seats no problem. But then it alternated between challenges and excuse requests. So I was hoping I had a chance, especially since I fit the profile the defence lawyers seemed keen on - middly aged European woman not overdressed. They did not like European men one bit. Alas after a long list of names the jury was formed and I was not on it.

Then they had to go off and choose a foreperson. We had to remain in case one or more members could not carry out their duties. It was a long wait and the judge eventually asked the court officer to check on them. Apparently two were unsure they could get time off. So I might get another chance! They were given 5 minutes to find out if they could. Unfortunately they were both able to so my chance was gone.

So at midday we rejected or excused jurors marched back downstairs to the assembly room where the 20 or so who hadn't come out of the ballot box plus the eight from the other trial were waiting. Once we were all there we were advised we were no longer needed - we had discharged our jury duty and were excused (if we wished) from serving for two years.

So I didn't get to experience a trial but I got a good look at what a courtroom is like during a trial.i also discovered that US law shows have given us a false image of what lawyers dress like. It was the High Court so gowns were de rigeur but all were very sartorially challenged and personal grooming only seemed to have been achieved but two female barristers, two male barristers and the judge.

The upside is I shall be able to NaNoWriMo without having to forgo sleep. Yay!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Armageddon is approaching.

Time to get costume making for the small fry who is now addicted to costumes and Cons.
Went to school as the Dread Pirate Roberts, I was so proud.
It's a good excuse to be on Pinterest 24/7 "looking for inspiration.






Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Research research research

I swear I sit down with my beautifully laid out plot outline all ready to write and then Bam! Some left field idea comes flying in promising to solve that tricky little problem in chapter 15.

I sing Hallelujah and head over to that section is Scrivener only to of course realise that my wondrous idea sprung forth without it's background research,

So writing is halted while I trawl the Internet for information so future readers don't throw my book across the room for historical inaccuracies. Once that is complete I can do my requisite number of words for the day but it does take time.

Case in point is my brilliant idea of an illicit waltz party. It seemed easy enough - waltzing is vulgar so no decent person will take part so of course it shall be illicit.

But then of course I needed to make sure it was illicit. So I had to find out when it became socially acceptable. Fine at a King's Ball some time after my planned event. Carry on. No wait! Who would arrange such an event? How do they know how to waltz?

Back to google to find out who introduced the waltz to the King. Great it was Princess Lieven, wife of the Russian Ambassador. OK she can do the job. But wait! Why does everyone refer to her as Countess. Googled and answer found - title of Prince conferred on her husband later.




So we have Countess Lieven ready to lead us astray. Hang on! Was she even around at the right time? Check - yes she arrived August 1812 so she is in England for our September party - carry on.

Wait! A description of her makes her sound like a snob, not to mention a femme fatale. Surely she would find our party beneath her. A bit more research establishes that she does not start her trail of intrigue for a few months so with relief she can attend a select party at the home of a friend she is visiting and demonstrate the waltz. Not that Emilia will partake - a) she is far too decent for that and b) the waltz even in it's 1812 form is complex and not to be learnt in one evening.

So another character is added to my timeline, another event is added. I even have to decide whether an illicit waltz party would be held during a full moon to aid the guests in travel or no moon for subterfuge. I decided a little after the full moon was best and fortunately NASA provides lovely moon tables for any year so a suitable date can be chosen.

So finally I was able to return to writing. Of course the next day I was off finding out where the Prince Regent was in January 1813 and that was some interesting reading!

I have to admit I love research - it's amazing just what brilliant ideas pop up when you're simply reading a letter from a petulant 17 year old daughter to her father complaining about being given a governess rather than a ladies companion.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Pick me, pick me

When I went to the RWA conference so many participants were expressing the huge value they gained from being in a writers' group. I even had lunch at a table with one group who had all come to the conference together.

So I thought it was time I tried to find one. There was a tiny ad in our local paper for a writers' group that meets biweekly. I've sent off an email asking to join and now I wait on tenterhooks to see if they will accept me. Hilarious how nervous I am.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I am an writer suffering from multiple personality disorder

Since NaNoWriMo ended I've really had a split personality. I thought my YA self had been tucked up in bed with a cup of cocoa and told to rest her fevered mind for a month while the School for the Maleficiently Gifted percolated. Meanwhile my Romance self could happily busy herself with completing the first draft of the Regency Romance. I managed to settle down my Paranormal Princess by taking note of an explanation for what happened to my characters in Atlantis to get them where they are today. All was running on track and joy abounded.

AND THEN I heard a radio interview with David Walliams where he said writing for children was much harder because they are super critical. Hmm thought I. So to get a book picked up by an agent or a publisher you have to have an adult's opinion yet the opinion of any young adult or child who has read the book is worth nothing. I had beta tested my book on a large group of children including those most critical of critics - homeschoolers - and had had good reviews, excellent suggestions (taken on board and used) but apparently the voice didn't speak to the agent who read it.

I had reserved my judgement on the agent because she didn't appear to be one of nature's most organised folk so would have struggled to form a relationship with her anyway so small mercies etc but since it took eight months to review three chapters and a reply was only received after I had inquired as to whether she had received it (she had a crazy spam filter that bounced my submission back when she had requested it - no hints given as to how to head the email so that was a bit of a strike one for me anyway).

Since for me the exercise had really been writing the manuscript I haven't been too torn up about it. I used it to try and learn about e publishing (I learnt that Facebook doesn't serve as a networking site when you can't convince your 'friends' to download a book for free! But that's another rant.) So Elodie has been a great learning tool.

Now I'm using it as another learning tool. I'm putting it on Movella.com, been up front that I'm an adult writing YA and just wanting some input. It was written a wee while ago now so things change and maybe Tweens now want a grittier story, or more magic, or more dystopia (I know they love them that dystopia but mine always ends up becoming a Cinderella story so I will not be joining Maria V Snyder and the Hunger Games woman in that genre. My hat goes off to them)

So the YA self keeps leaping out of bed and doing things to interupt the Romance self but I think we're managing to calm her down and keep her happy, for now. Come January there'll be no dealing with her if the romance hasn't been tied up. But there's Christmas between now and then so I might be able to buy her off with some chocolate.


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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NaNoWriMo I see your finish

With four days remaining I have 2000 words left to write to be a winner. I think I shall manage that.
I have a cruisy weekend so I spend Monday and today having the equivalent of a nuclear weekend - having three sessions each day of writing for 40 minutes, playing for 20 and writing again for 40 - repeat as necessary until1500 words has been written at each session.
I have one more session today so I will either get overexcited and finish today or have a lovely time tomorrow writing my final 500 words.



Then I get to put it away for a month. After that I'll come back with fresh eyes, reread it, bemoan as to how I can write such crap, remember all first drafts are rubbish and set to work editing, rewriting and all round getting it into shape.
I quite like this high powered get it out method. I may repeat next month....or not.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Still on the NaNoWriMo wagon

I had a wee fall off the wagon over the weekend but I'm back on board and did 2536 words today as penance. The only problem is I can't get the website to load to update my word count so I look like a drop out ��. Hopefully it's a temporary glitch but it's been two days.

I blame the single trans-Tasman cable. I support the idea of us all giving Kim Dotcom $10 and having him build a second cable. I am so sick of our slow and low Internet access.


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