Happy Pride Month, everybody!

Today I am sharing with you an absolutely beautiful piece of artwork drawn by one of my Creative Den–Discord friends, Jules (check out more of his artwork here on Twitter and Instagram).

To celebrate Pride 2019, Jules has drawn this stunning ensemble piece featuring some of the Creative Den’s original LGBT+ characters. Among then is my own character, Jonathan Carson! That’s him on the far-left; fitting in more ways than one, I feel.

Pride

Just like his creator (that’s me!), John is bisexual — that’s the Bisexual Pride flag tied around his wrist. I have spoken a little of John’s sexuality before. You can read all about it here!

Other characters featured (left-to-right) in this piece are:

  • M.P. Pierce‘s Raphael (representing Asexual Pride)
  • Jules’s own Doe & Moxie (representing Lesbian and Transgender Pride)
  • K.F. Goodacre‘s Spindle Larkspur (Genderfluid Pride)

I absolutely love this piece and can’t stop staring at it, or gushing about it. Thank you so much, Jules! You’re such an incredibly talented artist and I’d love for this to become a series. The Creative Den–Discord still has an abundance of LGBT+ characters for you to play with, after all… We’re a queer old lot.

Take care, my beloved LGBT+ followers. I know it’s hard to stay positive in this world, which may seem on a par with an increasingly dystopian nightmare at times, but we’ve got to stick together and keep going. I love you all. Stay safe, and be kind to yourselves.

Big, bisexual love,

S.E. Berrow

-MWAH-

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#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Question 34

Quick blog post for y’all today! Thought I’d tackle the next question in the #AcresofInk challenge. Obviously quite a lot of time has passed since I answered the previous question in this challenge; you can find that post here and the full list of challenge questions here.

34. Your thoughts on… Self-publishing or Traditional publishing?

Thinking about writing

I presume this means what I’d prefer to do with The Mayor once its done. Personally, I’d rather be traditionally published than take my book to market on my own. Why? A couple of reasons:

1) Traditional publishing does a lot of the leg work necessary to get the book to market for you.

So, that includes later-stage editing, copy editing, jacket design, advertising, production and distribution. If you opt to self-publish, you’d have to look for, run due-diligence on and — perhaps most importantly — pay for all that stuff yourself! Of course, if you self-published successfully and did really well, you’d make more money than you would if you’d traditionally published. Plus publishers’ input into all of the above aspects varies from author to author, book to book, meaning you could get published only for your book to perform poorly and you get dropped. So there is that to consider…

Nevertheless, I scarcely have the time and energy to write and edit my book to a submittable state as it is, so I’d really appreciate the team effort!

2) There’s something more validating to me about being picked up by a publisher than me “caving” and opting to publish the book by myself.

Getting picked up means that someone — an agent initially, and then a publisher — felt my book was good enough to want to invest in and sell. Now, objectively speaking, this is ridiculous. Publishing is a business first and foremost, and businesses sniff out what sells, not necessarily what is good. There are tons of incredible self-published books out there (the WOOL omnibus by Hugh Howey, for example — one of my faves, go read it!). Likewise there are also some truly awful books out there that are traditionally published (I shan’t name and shame, just check out my Goodreads for what I like and dislike).

Despite my knowing all this however, I can’t help but hold up being traditionally publication as The Dream. I think it’s a valid dream. Would I self-publish The Mayor if it never got accepted? Maybe. It’d be hard not to feel like a bit of a failure in that instance though. I think I’d be more likely to go away, write another book and try again. Each to their own! I have nothing but admiration for those who self-publish; they’re a lot less lazy than I am.

I fully reserve to change my mind on everything I’ve written above in the future XD

S.E. Berrow

 

It’s Aliiiiiiiive! S.E. Berrow is back.

itsalive

Well my friends, it has been — as my Texan friends say — a hot minute since I last updated this here blog. Around about half a year ago, I officially went On Hiatus with both my writing and blogging because reality became too much to cope with.

Well, I’m pleased to say that I am now BACK! In fact, I’ve been mentally ‘back’ for a couple of months now — I just haven’t gotten round to telling you about it. Reviving this blog was waaaaaaaaaaay down the priority list, but I have a bit more time and brainspace now, so I want to change that.

Life updates coming your way, bam, bam, bam, bam!


New Digs

At of December 2018, I finally — finally — moved house! Yes, it’s true. I am now living with my boyfriend of 4½ years and our menagerie of animals. The entire moving process was hella stressful, I must say. 1/10, would not recommend.

For the first month or so I feared we’d made a dreadful mistake. Everything was still in boxes, we had no internet or sofas, and it was pretty clear that certain parts of the house weren’t in quite as good nick as we’d initially thought.

Things only got even worse in January when one of our cats — poor, lovely, beautiful Flick — died suddenly and unexpectedly. You’ll recall I did a little teaser post about my imminent return at the beginning of January? Well… that’s why nothing came of it ’til now; Flick’s death really threw us for six.

But! I’m pleased to report we’re now much more settled in our new home and are taking serious steps to improve it even more! Our furbabies are very happy and we all feel much more at home. Hooray!


Writing

It’s official: Draft 2 of The Mayor is underway! As you may have seen from my website’s Compass during the month of April, I took part in Camp Nanowrimo (failed miserably, but whatever) to make headway with it. More than a decade has passed since I wrote the original first draft of The Mayor‘s first half — and whoa boy, it shows — so I’m having to rewrite large chunks. I’m really pleased with the results so far though. I find it very satisfying to compare my terribly worded, awful first draft to my brand new shiny draft. Editing in general is a renowned pain in the arse, but nobody told me how awesome it would feel to make things good, guys!

I don’t think I’ll meet my goal of finishing Draft 2 by the end of this year, but I’m definitely going to try. At the very least, I’m hoping to take part in the Curtis Brown First Novel Prize which ends at midday on the 1st August. 10,000 words? An 800 word synopsis? Adult novel of any genre? Doesn’t have to be completely finished? That’s me! I can do that! Wish me luck!

I have to say, just giving myself something to work towards has been a real motivator, so regardless of how I place in the competition, that alone makes the whole thing worth it.


Fitness

I’m doing Tough Mudder again this year (after deferring from last year), so I need to get fit again. Exercise, much like writing and blogging, had to take a backseat last year in the face of overwhelming depression and anxiety. As such, I’ve taken up running and thus far, have been very disciplined in sticking to it. Hell, I’d actually go so far as to say I’m enjoying it! I’ve got new running shoes, a running belt for keeping my phone in, saw a physio on Friday to check I hadn’t done myself an injury… Oh yeah. I’m taking this very seriously.

I’ve been following the NHS’s Couch to 5K programme, which is excellent, and I have Zombies, Run! ready to go when I finish it. I already feel so much better! My resting heart rate has decreased by 7 bpm in less than a month. I just feel more like myself again.

Need to get myself back up to half-marathon standard. Then I guess I’d better start weight-lifting to tackle those obstacles…


Currently reading: The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (second book in The Broken Earth trilogy… go read the first book, The Fifth Season, if you haven’t already; it’s glorious)

Currently listening to: I just finished listening to the excellent Binge Mode: Harry Potter (an analytical podcast covering all 7 books, all 8 films and the wider Potter canon), so now I’m catching up on all the music I’ve missed over the last three months whilst listening to that.

Currently watching: Nothing at the moment. Game of Thrones, I guess? Even though these last couple of seasons have pissed me off royally. I just finished watching Season 4 of Outlander (what a wild ride that was) and Season 8 of Taskmaster starts tonight!


That’s all for now. Phew! It’s good to be back. I’ll post here again very soon and hope not to leave it so long next time! I still intend to finish the #AcresofInk blog challenge and I have a couple of other things cooking over there as well. Watch this space…

Take care!

S.E. Berrow

Peter Connelly’s The Dark Angel Symphony Kickstarter needs your help! @tombraider_DA #TRDarkAngel #TombRaider

Hello, everyone!

I’m still on hiatus, however I’m just dropping by to tell you about an amazing project that I think needs your attention!

Peter Connelly — the amazing composer who worked on the soundtracks for Tomb Raider IV: The Last Revelation, Tomb Raider: Chronicles and Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness — has a Kickstarter going at the moment to extend, hone and reimagine the incredible music from those games (Nathan McCree, another Core Design-employed composer, did something similar with The Tomb Raider Suite; orchestrated soundtracks for Tomb Raider‘s I, II and III, and it’s fantastic).

Now just imagine what this, this, or this would sound like completely remastered and incorporated into an entirely new and stunning piece of music… I’m salivating just thinking about it!

Please, if you can spare a few £s and/or ps, please make your way on over to http://kck.st/2P58vMK (or click one of the images below) and pledge to bring this project to life. The Kickstarter has, unfortunately, already failed once, however after it relaunched on November 1st it racked up 55% of its goal in just 24 hours! There’s some amazing stuff up for grabs, including original concept artwork from Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.

Tomb Raider The Dark Angel Symphony Reborn

Please help this project become a reality. It would mean the world to me if you did ♥ Even if you just put a single pound towards it and share it, it would make such a difference. It’s all I want for Christmas, haha.

More information on the website here: https://trdarkangel.com/

Tomb Raider The Dark Angel Symphony

Thanks, guys. I appreciate you probably don’t follow me for this sort of stuff… Normal service to resume shortly (promise!) as house stuff finally seems to be moving along, touchwood.

S.E. Berrow

S.E. Berrow On Hiatus

I’m sorry to announce that due to various life stresses such as house-buying, work and social commitments, I am now officially On Hiatus.

By this, I mean I can no longer fool myself that I have the time, will, or inclination to create. My mind is a hideous, carnival-like hellscape — a carousel of anxiety and despair, going round and round in my head; a house of horrors from which I cannot escape, where the worst possible scenario threatens to jump out at me around every corner.

My mind is so occupied with things that are not writing, that I cannot effectively edit The Mayor: Part One. I cannot churn out even a paragraph for my John novella. I can’t even maintain this blog, missing week after week of the #AcresofInk blog challenge — it’s not acceptable. I fall at every hurdle. I fail at every task and goal I set myself. All I succeed in doing is sitting down at a desk and staring at a computer screen. I type out maybe… 4 words over the course of half an hour? Then I cry. And cry. And cry.

Not being able to write is making my anxiety worse. As such, this is me accepting that it’s just not going to happen until I am in a better place, both physically, and mentally. Thus… hiatus.

It’s not all doom and gloom. I fully intend to pick everything up again — #AcresofInk challenge included — as soon as this dark cloud passes. Also my writing partner, K.F. Goodacre, is drip-feeding me her own edits of The Mayor: Part One for me to read and absorb, and we have our writing retreat to look forward to in late November. Until then, I can still research. I can still world-build. I find these sorts of things are less taxing than editing or writing — they are true escapism. When I’m having an OK day, I can also stretch to adding to my outline of The Mayor: Part Two, which is definitely productive.

I’ve also commissioned some artworks from my illustrator Brettarts of some of my favourite scenes and characters from The Mayor to inspire me and bring me pleasure. Below is one such example of these depicting my characters, Melora and John. I can’t wait to have this incredible image printed, framed, and put on display in the office of my new house (when things eventually start moving on that front). I hope you like it ♥

JohnandMelora

I’m sorry to my friends and Beta readers I’m letting down with this news, but please know that it is absolutely necessary if I am to make it to next year at all.

Take care,

S.E. Berrow

#AcresOfInk Writing Challenge ~ Week 38: Question 32 & 33

Part of the 52 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

32. What is your protagonist’s biggest weakness?

Melora’s biggest weakness is definitely her naïvety. She’s also incredibly spoiled, which goes hand in hand with her naïvety, because it means she has a rather idealised view of the world. Her inability to recognise when she’s being manipulated lands her in a lot of trouble in The Mayor, which is ironic really, because she’s pretty manipulative herself.

I feel like these traits are quite well-demonstrated in my answer to the question below.

33. Your favourite scene

OK, so I made a list of favourite scenes vying for my top spot, and all six of them are spoilerific. Thus, I’m actually answering the question, “What scene do you have a soft spot for that doesn’t give anything away?” as opposed to which is my favourite

Disclaimer: this passage is very much in the draft stages. Please forgive the horrible syntax and my chronic verbosity.

Melora was in a far lighter mood for having seen Mr Kale again. She even saw fit to compliment Jaspher later that afternoon on his shiny new cravat pin — a silver oval with a garnet embedded at his centre — which suited his appearance very well.

“Thank you, Miss Winship,” Jaspher blushed, his expression lighting up at the compliment.

“Ahem,” Craven cleared his throat. The two hastily resumed their work, but as an unfazed Melora hummed quietly to herself, Jaspher kept his head down, furiously scribbling with his quill, neck prickling as he felt Craven’s cool, penetrating gaze upon him.

He wore the pin again to work next day. Then the next day. And the next. Although Melora extended no further compliments, he couldn’t help but squirm each time Craven looked his way, subtly covering his throat as the man sized him up like a specimen pinned beneath glass.

*

In the weeks that followed, Melora saw Mr Kale only thrice more, and each time, much to her bitter disappointment, he completely ignored her.

The first time, he seemed to be in a hurry, walking in the opposite direction with little time for small talk. The second, he dropped by to speak with Jaspher, not deigning to acknowledge her at all before the two of them departed for the shipping yard.

The third was just before her father bumped into him in the corridor, dumping her unceremoniously in her office before dashing off with Mr Kale, who scarcely spared her a glance. She fought the urge to cry as she flounced into her chair, rubbing her eyes and sniffing with the effort it took to restrain her tears.

“Miss Winship?” Jaspher’s voice jarred enough to make her grit her teeth. “Are you quite alright?”

“I’m fine, Jaspher,” she snapped, mood instantly souring as he hastened to his feet. Swords, why did he have to be so saint’s damned attuned to her distress? Could he not just leave her the hell alone for once?

She glared at him as he approached, temper flaring as her eyes were drawn to the pin nestled at his throat.

“Have you no grasp on the concept of fashion, Jaspher? You’ve been wearing that self-same cravat pin every day for the last month.”

Immediately she felt a stab of self-reproach — Jaspher’s face fell faster than cannon shot. Recoiling, he shuffled his way back to his desk, and Melora bit back the overwhelming urge to apologise, guilt only serving to stoke her anger.

Why should she apologise? She’d only spoken the truth. Why could he not change his attire every day like Mr Kale? The man paid her more attention than anyone she had ever known. Why could he not take more pride in his appearance? Be a little more sure of himself? Be a bit more interesting? Why could he not–

Why could he not be more like Mr Kale?

Copyright © S.E. Berrow 2018

S.E. Berrow