podcast // unhappy ever afters

I’ve been rather busy recently, and the script that I had started for this episode is gathering dust as a draft. Instead of waiting for the perfect moment to have everything together – a script with interesting, thoughtful content, for example – I thought: I’m just going to wing it. 

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It wasn’t the worst of my ideas, but the rather incoherent enthusiasm that followed certainly proved that it wasn’t one of my best, either. I apologise in advance.

Sometimes books let you down. Sometimes you just need to ramble incoherently about them. [Found Treasure by Grace Livingston Hill. The Mark of the Horse-Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff. Villette by Charlotte Brontë]

post on villette // podcast site

some things i’m grateful for …

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let’s begin …

the fact that I’ve yet to turn into a superhero. Wearing those suits can not be comfortable, yo!

the fact that I’m deluded enough to think that ‘yo!’ is a cool thing to say.

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Classic FM (but not the adverts. I hate the adverts. I don’t want to buy cars or have landlord insurance. Nor do I want to arrange any funerals just yet, though it’s nice of you to remind me of my mortality. Thanks for that.)

family

narwhals

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dwayne johnson singing!

that i’m not an astronaut

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puns. (Lots of puns.)

life

faith

books

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lots of books

narwhals are unicorns too

I have no idea what kind of post I should publish. I’ve even started to write a ‘how to write a blog post’ post for myself but was unable to finish it. Yes, my brain has reached that level of malfunction. Today, for example, I couldn’t count to eleven. I had to get someone to help me.

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this was my brain in that moment.

it’s a good idea to listen to your car

This week, my poor car suffered the indignity of being placed in a garage and poked around by mechanics. Apparently – and this is from a credible source – if your car squeals when you are pressing the breaks there is something wrong with it. Who knew, right?

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alarming music

If you like a song do not under any circumstance set it as your alarm. Love will turn to loathing quicker than you can awaken, feel enormously resentful, and shut the song up before it gets into full swing.

writing is good, and yet, so is sleep

I’m in a quandary at the moment. By the time I have emptied my brain and am ready to write, it’s late and I could easily sleep. So. Do I a) write into the wee hours and end up sleep deprived at work or b) sleep and feel great wrath towards myself in the morning?

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what do I do?!

it’s okay to write bizarre things

I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo. I tried last year and managed to give myself good old writer’s block for most of this year. To stop starting and halting in an eternal cycle, I’m giving myself leave to just write. It doesn’t have to be brilliant. It doesn’t have to be the best thing since sliced bread. As a result, I’m finding myself writing a rather odd book.

Sometimes I forget to be evil. Sometimes I forget to give a hearty, maniacal laugh. Sometimes I even say ‘thank you’ to my henchmen. I like to live dangerously.

– from the Rather Odd Book

So far, I have some unicorn cats and a crime lord dragon. Occasionally I wish that I could write volumes of terribly beautiful, incredibly deep and definitely prize-winning fiction. Other times, I shrug my shoulders and write about things which amuse me.

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‘… and then she said she didn’t want to EGGsplain it!’

have a lovely weekend!

hold the phone … i have a guest. A GUEST!

This evening, I have a guest on my blog. Grab a cuppa, a blanket (because winter has been rude and the chill has arrived early. TOO EARLY, I TELL YOU!) and settle down as Hazel West tells me of Sutcliff, spiders and sequels.

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What has your writing journey been like?

Well, I started writing at a very young age (my first stories were about my pets actually) but I’ve been writing steadily for about the last 12 years or so, and surprisingly come up with a few novels that people seem to enjoy reading😉 Among that time has been bad ideas, writer’s block, and stories that go no where, but that’s a writer’s life, right?

Coffee or tea?

Coffee, hands down. Coffee is life.

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If you could go back in time, what author would you have a dinner with?

Ooh, that’s a hard one. I think Arthur Conan Doyle would be on top of my list though. Not only did he write one of my favorite literary characters ever (even though he hated Holmes himself, haha) but he was just such an interesting person. Coincidentally, Doyle believed in Faeries😉

Name one of your inspirations

I think an author who has inspired me most in recent years has been Rosemary Sutcliff. Her books are beautiful and often tragic, but are so true to life and I think reading her really taught me how to craft both historical stories with meaning and how to write epic mythological retellings.

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High five, fellow Sutcliff fan!

How did the experience of writing An Earthly King differ from writing Blood Ties?

Sequels are hard. You’d think they would be easy since you know the story and characters, but they’re actually really hard sometimes. Getting back into a story but this time with a different storyline is sometimes difficult. Thankfully, AEK wasn’t quite asearthlykingcoverpic2-copy hard as other sequels I have *tried* to write. I think the main difference was that I had to do a lot more research for this one. In the first book, I was mainly creating a world based off of one already there, but apart from that, I took major leeway with my version of the Goblins you see in the story. However, I wanted to take a more traditional approach in AEK when it came to the Faery Courts because there is so much awesome stuff in the lore you can use, so I did a lot of research into Fae lore and all that. AEK is also a loose retelling of the Tam Lin story, while Blood Ties wasn’t based off of anything in particular apart from the Fianna legends.

Which are worse – spiders or snakes?

I’m actually not truly opposed to either. I quite like my spider (minions) who live in the house as they eat any other bugs who come in. As long as they stay on the ceiling we don’t bother each other. Snakes I’m not so happy about. I don’t mind non-poisonous ones but deadly snakes will be hunted down with extreme prejudice. So I guess snakes is my answer haha😉

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me too, my friend, me too

If you could snap your fingers and have any book – from any time or place – with you now, which book would it be?

Any of the Rosemary Sutcliff books I don’t have. Some are so hard to find copies of. Also, an original hardback copy of Patricia C. Wrede’s Calling on Dragons to complete my collection.

Writing on paper or on the computer?

I used to write all my stories on paper and then transcribe them, but I just can’t do that anymore. Number one, I can’t read my own handwriting, for some reason, it has only gotten worse over the years haha. Plus I can type so much faster, and it doesn’t give you cramps when you’re trying to get an idea down fast. Me and my laptop (whose name is Spencer) make a good team.

Thank you for stopping by, Hazel!


Hazel West lives in Purgatory, er, Florida, with her books and her hedgehog Horatio. When she’s not writing, she’s reading other people’s books, studying folklore, or binge-watching something on Netflix—drinking coffee is also a given.

newest book // blog // tour

the christian version of the bachelor (and other books)

I have been reading books. Here are my thoughts on three of them …

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The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

It’s a crying shame, because I feel as though if I was in my early teens I would have loved every single one of Dickerson’s works. However, I don’t. I enjoyed her Rapunzel retelling, but haven’t been able to really connect to any other books of hers.

It’s awful, but her books just don’t click with me. I can’t get past my outrage that nettles do NOT have needles you can pull out (I’m looking at you, The Merchant’s Daughter) and I couldn’t stop comparing The Beautiful Pretender to The Bachelor.

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Only here, the women aren’t judged for their beauty of their face, but the beauty of their soul. I just … no. It feels icky. The idea of young women lining up for one lucky gent to wave a soul scanner over them and be like ‘yup, you is good and kind and all *wiggles eyebrows* wanna be the Bathsheba to my David?’ is just …Image result for say what gifIt just doesn’t feel right, man.

Conclusion: alas, it wasn’t for me

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The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

It’s high fantasy and oh my goodness gracious there were so. many. names to remember. It took me till about the half way point before I had worked out who was who. And even then there was a PLOT TWIST! and I was all: wait, who?!

But I loved it. Because forget the names (literally. haha.) Maia is a genuinely good person. And how often do you find that in fiction? He’s been horribly beaten up by his uncle for the greater portion of his life, and look what he has to say, when he’s the Emperor and could have the man desiccated like a cocoanut if he wanted to:

‘In our inmost and secret heart, which you ask us to bare to you, we wish to banish them as we were banished, to a cold and lonely house, in the charge of a man who hated us. And we wish them trapped there as we were trapped.’

‘You consider that unjust, Serenity?’

‘We consider it cruel,’ Maia said. ‘And we do not think that cruelty is ever just.’

It’s a book you don’t want to end. (But then you realise it’s 3:37 in the morning and you probably should get some sleep.)

Conclusion: will re-read. And cry. Again

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Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher

I’ve read three retellings of A Thousand and One Nights and I rather think that this is my favourite. I like the fact that no magic is used and yet it feels magical.

The thing about life is, no matter what happens to you, it goes on. What seems like an ending is really a beginning in disguise.

I still don’t like the King/Sultan/Dude Man on the throne. Why? Because how can you excuse killing a load of innocent women? Saying ‘oh, it’s because I had a broken heart’ IS NOT AN EXCUSE.

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One Thousand Nights probably had the best reason (if you can have a ‘best’ reason for slaughtering your wives) and The Wrath and the Dawn is still:

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(If you’re going to kill someone because you have ACTUAL PROOF he’s a homicidal maniac – do it. Don’t stop because ‘ohmergosh, his bootiful faciness is sad’ Dude’s probably constipated.)

Conclusion: will remember. And pick up to re-read certain passages.

What books have you read recently? Spill the beans! What did you think to them?


You may or may not be wondering ‘what happened to the podcast, Ness?’ Well, I’ll tell you – life. Life happened. If it’s a choice between writing or making an episode, I’m going to go with writing. I’ve got projects to finish, unicorn cats to describe. Until I feel organised again, alas, the podcast is on hold.

confessions of a bookstagramer

I crochet, harbour world conquering aspirations, and oh! I take pictures of books. Here are three bookstagram related confessions of mine …

1 // once, i drove out into the countryside to get a good picture

Newly bitten by the bookstagram bug, I took a flask of tea, a library book, and one of my favourite Rosemary Sutcliff novels out into the Peak District. I climbed a rocky out-crop, saw breathtaking views, sipped tea and took pictures of my books when no one was around. As you do.

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Convincing myself that I did it just to get out in the great outdoors didn’t work. Nope. I wanted a darn good picture of a book. And I got one. #proudofit

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2 // i don’t read with fairy lights

I love fairy lights. I have them over my mirror, tangled in my bookcases and spread on my desk. I love fairy lights, but I do not read with them on my lap. Before bookstagram, I never considered arranging fairy lights on my bed, making sure my legs didn’t look too odd, and sitting at an awkward angle.

But then bookstagram happened, and I found myself wanting to share my current read. In an artful, completely impractical way.

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3 // i take books outside and stuff ’em in bushes

IT MADE SENSE AT THE TIME, OKAY?! A book about Jane? As in Tarzan and Jane? Take it outside and put it in the shrubbery. Now. Just do it.

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observe the perfection!

But then someone on Instagram noticed. And so, when my birthday rolled around, they insisted a picture needed to be taken of my cake. In the fuchsias. Just because.

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oh ho ho. very funny

podcast // a more realistic ever after

This episode is late because a) I decided to reread A Civil Contract and b) I have a bad habit of playing chicken with deadlines.

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She’s not a beauty, he’s not a rake. She’s in love with him, he’s in love with someone else. What on earth will happen? [A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer]

goodreads // podcast site

this bookish thing

This is a ramble. There is no other way of putting it. And worse – it’s a rambling ramble. I’m not sure what the difference is, but you have been warned.

// the lift of the book ban, the rise of my bills //

georgetteheyeronstairsI gave up buying books for the entire month of September. My bank account thanked me, but ohhhh white chocolate it was hard.

It’s now October. And the book buying ban has been lifted. Amazon is sending me books. Can I refuse them? No. No, I can’t. It would be rude.

Thus far, three books have arrived through the post box: a biography about Georgette Heyer, Simon The Coldheart by Georgette Heyer, and a look at the Regency world found in the books of … Georgette Heyer.

I’m starting to suspect that I might be a fan of hers.

// ‘anything you can polite, I can polite betterrrrr’ //

At work recently, I served a customer. This is not an unusual thing. I serve customers all the time. However, this customer chucked me headfirst into the most excruciating battle of ‘Who Can Out Polite The Other’ I’ve ever accidentally been in.

We thanked each other for every. little. thing. I was quite exhausted by the end of it. He won. For certain. He was the most determinedly polite person I’ve ever met.

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it was this, in verbal form … but worse

// words and words and words //

Due to one thing or another, I’ve been struggling to write. But no more! This autumn, I am finishing the rewrite of The Dragons We Hunt. Bring on the murderers! Throw in the dragons! Let the adventure and blood and sweat and late nights and tears begin!

25930798// … and he used an axe. AN AXE! //

At the moment, I’m reading Joan of Arc by Helen Castor. (Let’s not talk about how many times I’ve had to renew it at the library.) And it’s really good –it’s a bit of history that I’m not too familiar with, from a perspective that I’ve never really considered. It’s quite gripping.

I mean … plot twist I wasn’t expecting what happened to John of Burgundy to happen.

My jaw dropped and I wanted to grab a nearby co-worker and rant about it but:

  1. I didn’t want to go down in modern history as ‘The Mad Woman In The Staff Canteen’
  2. The co-worker wouldn’t have appreciated being grabbed and told ‘so, there was this bridge and this Dauphin and this duke and ohmergosh THEY ACTUALLY DIDN’T HAVE PEACEFUL INTENTIONS AT ALL!’
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Alas, I don’t think they would’ve shared my shock

have a great weekend!

podcast // wishes, crusaders, and gardens

If you marry a man for his bank account, you’re called a gold digger. So what do you call it if you’re marrying a man for a rose garden … a garden digger? … a gardener? No? Okay. [The Rose-Garden Husband by Margaret Widdemer]

And Phyllis Braithwaite, the little Liberry Teacher who had been living in a hall bedroom on much less money than she needed, found herself alone, sole mistress of the great Harrington house, a corps of servants, a husband passive enough to satisfy the most militant suffragette, a check-book, a wistful wolfhound, and five hundred dollars, cash, for current expenses

 ebook // podcast site // audiobook

i have excellent pronunciation

WordPress tells me that it and I have been friends for three years. Before that, I was aquantinces with blogger and I feel as though it would probably be more appropriate to talk about the differences between the two platforms. BUT! That’s not what tonight’s post is about …

My friends, I am quite delighted to announce that I am officially launching a podcast show. (Series. Season? Wut iz de lingo?)ofwordsandbookspodcover

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It is creatively called of words and books (because I thought ‘i blame myshelf’ could sound negative and my brain, though begged, refused to give up anything that was a) better, b) not taken up or c) wasn’t a level 1 bad, awful, no-good pun.) It will be:

  • a weekly podcast – a new episode either Monday or Tuesday
  • full of book chats – I love talking about books and want to talk with you about them. The written word is brilliant. The spoken word is too. With this blog and this podcast? Best of both worlds.
  • have a few interesting pronunciations.
  • be (hopefully) increasing in quality with every episode.

The first episode is entitled How Do You Reform a Rake? and should show up in a nice media box beneath this paragraph. If it doesn’t … WordPress? After three years? This is how you repay me?!

 

[Edit: The box refuses to show. I have begged youtube for aid. Aid has been granted.]

Fear not, it shall not all be rehashed blog posts. I have authors and books aplenty that I want to share with you. The Rose Garden Husband is next week’s book, and after that I intend to persuade you that A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer is one of the best things since tea was invented.

The future is bright and bookish, my friends!

my podcasting site // post i used as inspiration // this episode