The Beautiful Books #23: March 2017

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals

Welcome to another installment of The Beautiful Books, where I bather on about my current WIP Novel Project, which would be Orion – Volume II in the Pushing Boundaries series (yeah, I know, it says Scorpius is the title of Volume II on the Pushing Boundaries link page, clearly I need to change that, Scorpius will be the title of Volume III instead), however, there have been some complications with the plotting and outlining process.

I’m supposed to have a finished outline for Volume II by the end of March so I can use it for Camp NaNoWriMo in April, but right now it’s just super hard to sit down and think about what I want to happen in Volume II, let alone write it down. One of the numerous problems is that currently I don’t know what’s going on with Beth and James, so for the mean-time, I’m just going to focus on Mac and Cassie and, hopefully, that’ll work out instead. On with the post!

What’s their favourite book/movie/play/etc.?
Mac: Mac enjoys Marvel and DC Comics (the whole Marvel/DC rivalry doesn’t make any sense to him), so he’s enthusiastic/passionate about Comic-to-Movie adaptation, he likes being able to explain the adaptation differences and domino affect it would have on the plot-line.

Cassie: Cassie enjoys cheesy romantic-comedies but her favorite movie would be The Notebook

Is there anything they regret doing?
Mac got Cassie pregnant when she was seventeen and he was twenty and, while they don’t regret getting pregnant per say, they regret the circumstances and events that happened around the two of them at that time (so it’s more of a “guilt by association” type thing).

Mac: When Cassie first told him that she was pregnant, Mac went to James for assistance and James and Justine offered to help discreetly arrange an abortion for Cassie, which is something they both objected to (Cassie didn’t want to get abortion and Mac was supportive of her choice, he was willing to provide whatever Cassie needed), however, Cassie’s family eventually realised that she was pregnant and organised to have Cassie “sent off to a relative” when her pregnancy became more noticeable and for parents to adopt the child. Mac objected to this attempted to (for lack of a better word) rescue Cassie from this arrangement (Cassie was pretty much being forced into giving up the child, but she have a small say on who the adoptive parents could be, Mac didn’t get a say at all). James found out about this and, with Justine’s help, tracked Mac and Cassie down and brought Cassie back to her parents.

Cassie: Cassie doesn’t regret going through with the pregnancy, but sometimes she does wonder if she should have had an abortion (would it have spared Mac all that turmoil and stress?), Cassie also regrets not being able to talk to Mac about the situation, Mac just assumed that they would be a continue to be couple and they would automatically become a family, Cassie wanted to be Mac and she loves him very much, but she realizes now that she didn’t want to be a mother at that point in her life and she’s afraid of saying anything about it because she doesn’t want to sound like she doesn’t care about Mac or the daughter they have. So Yeah… A lot of angst there.

If they were sick or wounded, who would take care of them and how?
Mac: Emilia is a little precious with Mac with when Mac is sick

Cassie: Cassie normally just takes care of herself (depending on how bad it is, usually she’s not that bad), her mum checks on her but her mum is more the aloof/distant type.

Is there an object they can’t bear to part with and why?
Mac: Mac has sonograms of his unborn daughter tucked away safely, but he also has a copy of them on his phone, for obvious reasons.

Cassie: Cassie wishes she had sonograms (her mother took her copies from her to give to the adoptive parents), I’m planning on writing a depressing/touching scene (depending on my writing skills and reader’s perspective) where Cassie finds them on his phone.

What are 5 ways to win their heart (or friendship)?
Both Mac and Cassie have a strong sense of loyalty to their friends (it does manifest in different ways, Mac is more aggressive and willing to pick a fight, where are Cassie is more passive and willing to do stuff on another person’s behalf). Beth manages to win them both over being nice to them and cooking them food.
Mac: Mac is more of a common interest type person, Duncan and him have been mates since secondary school and while they both have an interest in drawing, Duncan no longer has time to pursue it (busy with work and a girlfriend), Beth has more of an interest in manga than comics but she knows enough of a general overview of Marvel and DC so that she had keep up with Mac. Beth also has a list of Marvel movies and TV shows she’s been meaning to catch up on.

Cassie: Cassie is pretty tolerant of people, but she won’t accept homophobia and, even though she’s rather timid when it comes to defending herself from her brother Mark or Donoghue, she is quick and sharp to call Mark and Donoghue out on their bullshit. Cassie can be a little clingy, although she doesn’t always realise it, Seamus sometimes has to remind her when she’s being too clingy with Beth.

Describe a typical outfit for them from top to bottom.
Mac: work boots, flannel shirt (usually in a shade of blue with a navy blue singlet underneath) and jeans.

Cassie: feminine method of fashion, pastel colors (pink and blue), likes to where knitted items of clothing and make her own items of clothing.

What’s their favorite type of weather?
Mac: Summer and spring, but mostly summer, Mac would love the idea of Australian summer, which generically speaking involves wearing shorts and thongs (the shoes in case that wasn’t clear), going to the beach and having a backyard barbecue

Cassie: Cassie likes spring, she loves the smell of roses and flowers in bloom, she also enjoys hiking and walking trails

What’s the worst fight they’ve ever been in?
I suppose it wasn’t a fight, but more the absence of a fight, the pressure of things left unsaid. When James and Justine came to collect Cassie from the caravan-park they were holed up in, James held Mac in a head-lock until he passed out (James made sure to get Justine to stay with him to prevent him from chasing after Cassie), so neither of them got a chance to say goodbye and get proper closure from the whole incident. The lack of closure affects them both, it just affects them in different ways, Mac gets drunk and lashes out, while Cassie takes to selling drugs so she can get away from her parents.

What names or nicknames have they been called throughout their life?
Mac: Mac doesn’t have any nicknames because he’s name is already so short, although Beth does develop the habit of calling Mac “Macca” (which she does to annoy him, although it annoys James more than it does Mac)

Cassie: Cassie’s full name is Cassandra, but she prefers Cassie

What makes their heart feel alive?
Mac: Being with Cassie

Cassie: Being with Mac

So Yeah… that’s about it thus far, now I just have to sit down, and figure out how to shove all of those past events into a 60 000 novella *manic and slightly panicky laughter.

The Beautiful Books #22: February 2017

 

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals

Last year when I answered these questions, the couple I chose to focus on was Beth and James, however, this time around I’d like to focus on another couple. This time I’d like to focus on my side-characters, Mac and Cassie, this is because in an indirect way they’ve managed to spark the catalysts of my main plot and a couple of side-plots as well. I would also prefer to focus on Mac and Cassie at this point because (to be honest) they’re the only couple in my Pushing Boundaries series where I have a definitive answer for how I want to resolve their relationship problems and what kind of place (growth-wise) I want Mac and Cassie to be in by the end of Volume II.

How and why did they meet?
Mac and Cassie met at a mutual friend’s house party, Duncan, they did have a few drinks but they spent the whole night talking to each other about Comic Books and Comic Book Adaptations (movies and tv shows) and that was a new thing for Mac, despite the fact that Cassie was seventeen at the time and he was twenty.

What were their first impressions of each other?
Cassie was a little imitated by Mac and was uncertain of how to proceed (mostly because of how James and her older brother have a big feud). Cassie was expecting Mac to be hostile towards her because of the feud, but he wasn’t. Mac was expecting Cassie to be a snob or a malicious bitch because the Acker family have a history of being arseholes, Mac’s idea was that Cassie wasn’t worth the effort, so he pretty much ignored her until Seamus introduced them and mentioned that Cassie liked graphic novels and manga.

How would they prove their love for each other?
Mac’s the type of guy who doesn’t say he loves people with words but with actions, he’ll do something he doesn’t particularly like because it will make person X happy, he’s also the type to get into fights defending people (but in a way that’s more using someone else as an excuse to get into a fight).

Cassie is the type of person who is physically affectionate with a lover/paramour/partner but rather shy and reserved when it comes to talking about her feelings, in fact she tends to avoid those types of conversations (which is why Mac doesn’t know where he stands, he can’t tell if it was just some silly fling or a meaningful connection)

What would be an ideal date?
Mac: freshly shaved and nice clothing, most likely dinner and a movie kinda deal, but he’s also the type to want to go for a walk after dinner and explore the nearby area, maybe get dessert from a different place.
Cassie: Cassie the type to want a later dinner at a restaurant, that way there’s less people and it’s more intimate. But Cassie also likes group outings like dragging Mac along to a LARP situation (Cassie and Seamus are into LARP and Dungeons & Dragons). She likes her perspective partner to show an interest in her activities and being able to get along with her friends.

Is there something they emphatically disagree on?
Mac has a pretty black and white perspective on Cassie’s abusive family situation, he refuses to let Cassie “explain” away her parents behavior (“Dad is only like that when he’s drunk, he doesn’t mean it and he makes up for it later”). Beth helps Mac understand that the situation can be more complicated and that it is not always that simple because her father is a police officer.

List 3 “food quirks” they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they’re allergic to something, etc….and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!)
01. Mac is average at cooking, but there’s two meals he’s really good at which is scrambled eggs and pancakes. This is because James taught him how to cook them when he was younger.
02. Not sure if this is food related, but Cassie is a competent deer hunter because her dad likes to deer hunt as well, she also knows how to properly skin an animal and the basics of tanning.
03. Mac is more Sweets Orientated and Cassie is more Savory Orientated

What’s one thing they know about each other that no one else does?
Cassie knows that Mac is a good drawer and encouraged him to pursue it professionally. Mac knows that Cassie enjoys performing with the choir but hates performing solo pieces for the church, she feels that she’s getting the solo because her parent’s influence on the church council, not because she’s talented (she is reasonably talented though)

What’s one thing that they keep a secret from each other?
Over the two years, both of them have contemplated suicide, Cassie tends to be more inclined towards drinking and self-harming, however, both of them seem to be heading towards self-destructive burn-out, Beth is the one who notices this in both of them and both of them ask Beth not to mention it to the other (something Beth doesn’t approve of but understands).

How would their lives be different without each other?
That’s an interesting question. If Cassie and Mac hadn’t met, Cassie wouldn’t have gotten pregnant and Mac and Cassie wouldn’t be the parent to a daughter, but for Cassie, her life situation wouldn’t really be that much different, if anything her current situation is kind of unbearable because when she was Mac she realised what it was like to be truly happy and what it felt to break away from her family situation (even if it was just for a couple of hours or days). I like to think Mac would still feel as though he was without a purpose (he just wouldn’t know why), he felt as his relationship with Cassie gave him purpose, that he felt he was really was making a difference in someone else’s life. Mac would be less depressed but he would just as emotionally lost.

Where do they each see this relationship going?
Both of them don’t see it working out and that they’re better off without the other (naturally this isn’t true). Beth and Seamus think it could work out which is why they get involved as match-makers which mostly consists of getting Mac and Cassie in the same room and making them talk to each other (Beth and Seamus haven’t put much thought into plan), primarily at Justine’s shed as it’s kind of a more neutral zone (much to Justine’s annoyance).

So yeah… That’s my Beautiful Books post, if you want to talking about your latest WIP Novel project, feel free to leave a comment down the bottom. If you want to leave a link to your own Beautiful People post, please do so in the comment section down below, and if you’re interested in partaking in Camp NaNoWriMo in April, let me know in the comments section.

Links:
~Paper Fury: BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE #22 ~ COUPLES EDITION

~Paper Fury: How I Get Ready To Write A Novel

Beautiful Books ~ 2017 Writing Goals

Image Description: A close up picture of a type-writer with the heading of "beautiful books: a link up for writers" up the top of the image. At the bottom of the image is the website urls for <a href="http://paperfury.com/" target="_blank">Paper Fury</a> and <a href="http://www.furtherupfurtherin.net/" target="_blank">Further Up and Further In </a>
Image Description: A close up picture of a type-writer with the heading of “beautiful books: a link up for writers” up the top of the image. At the bottom of the image is the website urls for Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In

What were your writing achievements last year?
~Self-published my first EBook Canis Major, Volume I of the Pushing Boundaries series (yes, I will shamelessly plug this for as long as possible)

What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?
~Participate and Win Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July and then NaNoWriMo in November
~Attend the Emerging Writers Festival and/or Melbourne Writers Festival
~Write One Stim Toy Review a month
~Write at least one RecipeYum Article a month (I’m hoping for more but I’m being realistic)
~Read and Review at least two books a month (I’m hoping for more, but I’m being realistic)

Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!
~Orion, volume II of the Pushing Boundaries series
~Andromeda, a collection of short stories focusing on Beth and Mary as teenagers

How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?
~A finished manuscript of Orion, Volume II of Pushing Boundaries
~I also hope to improve my attendance at Writer Events/Author Events

Describe your general editing process.
For other authors or other people:
~Print out a hard-copy and go through it chapter by chapter with a red pen, possible write notes or questions on the back of pages.

For my own projects:
~Flail around helplessly and do a terrible job in general (I’m awful when it comes to editing my own work)

On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?
-Insert Chewbacca Noises Here- But in all honesty, I really want to develop the habit this year of sitting down on one day of week (or whenever) and consistently writing, I’m looking into using the Pomodoro Technique.

What aspect of your draft needs the most work?
Well it needs to exist for one thing, but I think it’ll help me if I sit down and down a an outline for it, I was thinking chapter-by-chapter but not too detailed.

What do you like the most about your draft?
Well what I like about the idea behind Orion and the Pushing Boundaries series is that it’s like the first project I’ve been able to consistently work on, that’s kind of amazing for me.

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
Hopefully by November, it’s finished and is ready for editing and/or Beta reading, but due to the cost of self-publishing I might be forced into only being able self-publish an 60 000 word Ebook every second year, which is why I’ll be writing some short stories in the meantime (and then putting them into their own Ebook later on).

What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?
Give your draft some space. My biggest problem was that I couldn’t give my WIP Writing Project space due to poor time management skills. I had to write, edit and self-publish all within the space of a year and it did turn out to be a rush job (I really don’t recommend this), however, I’m still proud of what I managed to accomplish. But if I had the luxury of space, I would have had a better and more objective perspective when it was time for editing, so knowing when to let go a project and work on something else for a while (but not too long) is a good skill to develop.

Also Editing will take WAY longer than you could possibly imagine, do your research, find the right resources for you and don’t get discouraged or think you’ll never get to the end of the tunnel, because you will 🙂

The Beautiful Books #21: September

Beautiful Books - Writing Goals
It’s time for another installment of The Beautiful Books – September Edition. Unfortunately, the effort of trying to make sure Pushing Boundaries: Volume One is ready for publishing, I’ve been a bit slack with regards to blogging (sorry about that) so naturally I fell a bit behind and am now #LowKeyPanicking especially now that this year’s NaNoWriMo is fast approaching (I need a freaking Freeze Ray, time is going way too fast).

This On The Outside

This On The Outside

This On The Inside

This On The Inside


And all of my assignments are due on the same day, the last day of term, huzzah! Because I need that extra layer of stress (did I mention I’m attempting to Graduate this year from my degree? Whose foolish idea was that?). Anyway, I’ll stop bitching (I’m sure there are worse off people than myself) and I shall get on with the post.

How did you come up with this character?
James: While James is his own person, the two people I was inspired by to make James are similar to each other but neither of them are similar to James. I wanted James to be distinctively different from them.
The funny thing about James is that personality-wise, he and I more alike than the two people I loosely based him on, and by based on I took a personality trait I liked in others but lacked myself (like say blunt method of talking combined with a dry sense of humor) and added that to James.

Beth: There are elements of my sister in Beth, they’re both Auslan interpreters, they both wear more socially acceptable feminine style of clothing, they’re women who understand the idea behind feminism but aren’t interested in actively participating in it, they’re both mildly eccentric (but not too weird) and a little awkward with people they don’t know well. But there are elements of Beth that are more like me rather than my sister. Beth only wears make-up when she has to (I rarely wear make-up and usually only do so for a special occasion) and Beth is more introverted than my sister.

Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast?
James: No, especially since James lives with his Scottish grandma, when he spends time with his Scottish extended family, they are constantly trying to get him to eat (James is a vegetarian with a high metabolism so he’s often underweight). However, James has felt “starving for attention” rather than food.

Beth: Beth does detox cleanses regularly or for a special occasion, something James thinks is pointless and super weird. Beth might also fit into the “starving for attention” category as well, but she’s not the type to say or do anything about it.

Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of?
James: James and Robert have a mutual interest in Astronomy, James is very proud of the fact that he can point out constellations (with a good pair of binoculars) and he can show people planets with Robert’s telescope. Although James doesn’t know the Greek mythology behind those same constellations

Beth: While Beth has skills she’s proud of, like her domestic skills (cooking, cleaning, organizing), I think it’s her talent for dancing that’s a little more interesting (or it could just be me). Beth has a talent for dancing, but no interest in the sport or surrounding culture of it, where as Mary loves dancing but struggles with coordination because of her autism.

Mary loves Dancing, so she’s willing to try harder and put up with the shitty attitudes that she can encounter in the Dancing industry, however Beth isn’t willing to do that. When Mary and Beth were kids and teenagers, Beth was made to feel as though she had to go along with it so Mary could be included.

List 3 things that would make them lose their temper.
James: Bigotry (particularly Ableism, Racism and Homophobia), people parking in the disability car-park without a disability sticker and his triggers such as Lavender and Witch-hazel.

Beth: Family/Emotional abuse, Ableism (especially towards Mary or Deaf people) and people saying ignorant/stupid things about Homeless people, mental health and Alcoholism.

What is their favourite type of weather? Least favorite?
James: James has a high cold tolerance which means he can’t stand the heat (which always makes Beth laugh as she’s from Australia).
Beth: Autumn, it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold and the Autumn leaves piling everywhere just so she can kick them.

What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality?
James: Hogwarts House: Slytherin MBTI: ISTJ
Beth: Hogwarts House: Hufflepuff MBTI: ISIP

Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future?
James: Both, sometimes they combine together
Beth: More likely to focus on current problem

What is their favourite thing to drink?
James: Tea, it’s calming and ritualistic
Beth: Hot chocolate with the wafer-chocolate stick things in them (they come in tins)
chocolate-wafer-sticks

What is their favourite color? Least favorite?
James: Navy Blue or Cobalt Blue
Beth: Robin’s Egg Blue or Green (various shades)

What is a book that changed their life?
James: I’m not sure if changed his life is appropriate, but James’s favorite book is Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, he has it in multiple formats (special edition hardback and audio book), as well as a DON’T PANIC poster on the back of his door.

And, in a strange kind of way, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. James has read the books but didn’t purchase them (James refuses to purchase a copy, so he took his mother’s copy of the trilogy and then returned them with post-it notes through out them, as in “Màthair, this is terrible grammar, I can’t believe this is in a published book, how can you defend this?”) The fact that E.L. James could publish badly written BDSM pornography and make money out of it gave James the idea that if she can write it and make good money out of it, he could do the same thing.

Beth: As Beth has experienced Family Abuse/Emotional Abuse from her mother (who is a high functioning alcoholic), she tends to find books that deal with those particular issues to be in the “hit or a miss” category. The Child Called It by Dave Pelzer is very triggering for her. However, she often reads fiction as a form of escapism (Beth will read from most genres but her predominant genre would be romance)

The Beautiful Books #20: August

the beautiful people - august
Welcome to another installment of The Beautiful Books, this one focuses on appearance and description, so this installment will probably be a little more lackluster than usual, I’m certain I have mentioned short and tall far too many times. I know what my strengths are and description is not one of them, however perhaps I could use this as an opportunity to improve. On with the post!

Give a brief overview of their looks. (Include a photo if you want!)
James: James is taller than average, blue eyes, black hair (about waist length, his build is thin but athletic.

Beth: petite and curvy, long dark brown hair, green eyes, short.

Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.
I don’t have much description in Pushing Boundaries, but this is a description of James from Robert’s (James’s step-father) point of view when James was twelve.
James: “Up close he was skinny wee thing, tall though, with long black hair that fell across his face. He must be older than Robert had assumed, but if he didn’t know better, he’d have thought the boy was a girl”

This description of Beth is from James’s perspective.
Beth: “Sitting on the bed behind him was a young woman in a purple dress with a pleated skirt and short sleeves (he noticed on the right sleeve the tail end of a tattoo, but he was unable to figure out what the tattoo was as a whole).
She was also wearing black and purple tights with wide horizontal stripes. The young woman had the same dark brown hair as Detective Smith and the same almond-shaped green eyes that both he and Mary-Anne possessed. James assumed this was Beth.”

What is the first thing people might notice about them?
James: When out in public, James has a tendency to dress overly-formal.

Beth: Beth can be a little slob-like, one of the things James’s notices about her is her seemingly endless supply of grandpa golf sweaters.

What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)
James: James’s long black hair (it’s roughly waist-length)

Beth: Beth’s height (she’s five-one)

How tall are they? What is their build (Ex: stocky, slender, petite, etc.)
James: Athletic with a slender/skinny build at seven feet and five inches

Beth: Petite and curvy at five feet and one inches

What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?
James: A hunched in the shoulders

Beth: When not sitting at a computer, Beth has excellent posture, straight back and shoulders, but tends to hunch her shoulders when using a computer or her laptop.

Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?

James: James seems to dress in two extremes, when out in public, he’s rather formal, but at home he tends to dress in track-pants, sweaters and slippers

Beth: usually she’s bundled up in bed in either pj’s or track-pants and moccasins

Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?
James: James usually has his hair in a pony-tail and he occasionally plays with it when he’s nervous. He generally wears a tie to work, he does have a couple of bright colored ties and a Dr Who TARDIS tie, but he mostly wears shades of blue.

Beth: Beth has a stimming bracelet that she gives to James at the beginning of the novel, she and Mary have a matching set (James keeps telling himself he needs to give it back but he doesn’t get around to doing so). Beth typically has her hair in a braid or pony-tail braid. Beth typically wears more neutral colours like yellow and green (mostly pastels) but does enjoy pink and purple.

Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!
James: James has experienced bullying and insensitive comments about his lack of facial expressions and monotone. However, James is usually very good with hygiene but also good at not wearing a lot of cologne or body spray.

Beth: Being curvy or perhaps being considered as being on the heavier end of the weight spectrum, Beth has experienced body-weight issues and body weight bullying, and while she’s got her own insecurities, those tend to be more mental insecurities, rather than physical and sexual insecurities.

Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?
James: James has a slender build and he would want to put on more weight and muscle mass, however as he’s vegetarian and has a fast metabolism, he does struggle to put on weight.

Beth: Beth is relatively fine with how she looks, she feel the pressure occasionally to lose weight, body-shaming issues are something she struggles with (especially when it comes to clothing choices), but she does possess the awareness that loosing five or ten kilos won’t really change much in the grand scheme of things.

Links:
~Paper Fury: BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE #20 // APPEARANCE EDITION

~Further Up and Further In: Beautiful People: August Edition

The Beautiful Books 18: June

the beautiful people 17
Welcome to another installment of The Beautiful Books, hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In and this edition is about Childhood. However, before I begin, there are a couple of things I need to clarify, I’ve had to change the names of a few of my characters, one of them being my main character from Olivia to Beth (short for Elizabeth), mostly because my sister decided to name her new-born daughter Olivia, and while I don’t want to give my niece a complex, I also don’t want my sister thinking I think she’s a terrible mother, in fact sister is a great mother (so far), and while it still weirds me out a little to realise my younger sister has a tiny human in her custody, I am looking forward to teaching my niece the ways of Feminism and the ways of the Nerd (Mwuahahahah).

The Questions:
What are their first childhood memory?
James: James’s earliest childhood memory is sitting/standing in the living room of his Seanmhair (grandmother) and Màthair’s (mother) small house in Glasgow, he had a set of large Lego blocks and he would build a large tower (as high as his blocks would allow) and then when he finished, he would push the tower over. James would do this over and over. It’s not that he didn’t have other toys to play with (his mother would try to encourage him to play with the other toys), he just loved the blocks best.

Beth: Beth’s earliest memories are building a pillow fort in the living room with her sister Mary, waiting for parents to come home (though mostly her father), while her Aunt Charlotte looked after them at night when her mother was doing shift work and her father was working late hours. Beth and Mary both share a great love of Disney and Pixar movies, something they both still enjoy but for different reasons. Mary enjoys Disney movies in a way to help calm her down and soothe her, where as Beth enjoys them in a more job-orientated way (like “would this be good class material?), so I suppose it’s harder for Beth to enjoy kids movies now than previously because of her job.

What were their best and worst childhood experiences?
James: The worst moment for James would be when he was sent away for psychiatric testing at a special needs school (which was like a boarding school), he hated it because it was away from his Seanmhair (grandmother) and Màthair (mother). However, when he was five and his mother told his biological father he’d been diagnosed with Autism stands out for him, mostly because his biological father ceased all contact afterwards. Best moment for James would be when he came back from special needs school and Robert took him to his first karate lesson (Robert stayed the whole time to watch him and make sure there wasn’t any problems), this is where James met Justine (he’s two years older than her), Justine’s always been direct and a little aggressive, which was something James didn’t have a problem with and Justine liked the fact that James wasn’t afraid of her and happy to give as much as he received, so they’ve been best friends ever since.

Beth: The worst moment for Beth would be when she had just finished year 11 in secondary school and her mother wanted her to repeat year 11 so that Beth would be in the same class as her sister Mary and Beth would be able help Mary with the school-work, her mother harassed her about it for weeks until Beth finally snapped and Claire and Beth had a massive fight about it, which resulted in Claire hitting Beth, and as this had happened previously, Beth wasn’t eager to stick around for it keep happening. As a result, Beth run away from home and move around from homeless shelters, youth shelters and camping sites. She didn’t go to her Aunt Charlotte’s place because she didn’t think Aunt Charlotte would believe her and would force her to go back home. While Beth was homeless, she was staying at a youth center and she was helping a social worker set up an early breakfast thing for homeless people when the social worker was attacked by an ice-addict, Beth was there and managed to beat the guy unconscious with a fold-up chair. Beth sort of blames herself, she thinks if she’d realised sooner, she could have prevented the attack from occurring. Her best moment was when Aunt Charlotte stood up for her against her mother and Aunt Charlotte went over to her mother’s place and collected the rest of Beth’s things so she could move in with Aunt Charlotte instead

What was their childhood home like?
James: James, his Seanmhair (grandmother) and Màthair (mother) all lived in a two bedroom flat in Glasgow, which was surrounded by other two bedroom flats but it was located in a rough neighborhood, however it was close to the local hospital which was good for James’s Màthair (who is a nurse). However, he moved to Kirkby Stephen with his Seanmhair (grandmother) and Màthair (mother) when he was 12 and his mother met Robert. Robert and his mother moved into Robert’s place and while James did try living with them, after a couple of days James insisted on living with Rosemary (grandmother), which ended up being better for him anyway.

Beth: Beth’s parent’s home was a three bedroom home in Taylor’s Lake, one bedroom was for Beth’s dad to use as an office, so Beth and Mary ended up sharing a room (and bed) most of the time. Aunt Charlotte lives in the same area, however her house is a little bigger (four bedroom).

What’s something that scared them as child?
James: Hair cuts, which is why he’s always had his hair long (though as an adult it’s more he doesn’t want to waste time at the hair-dressers), social interactions (he’s quite a high level of anxiety about general stuff but social anxiety is high on the list). As a child, James was often afraid of his biological father and didn’t like leaving his mother alone with him.

Beth: As a child, Beth was always scared her dad wouldn’t come home, Mary could pick up on stressful energy from her mother (while they waited for him to come home) but Mary couldn’t always figure out why Beth and her mother were stressed or worried. Beth was always scared of getting into a relationship with a police officer, this isn’t just because of the dangers involved in the job, but that occasionally the wives of police officers who were dealing with domestic violence issues would come around the house because Beth’s mother was a nurse, they would come over to the house if they needed a patch up or someone to talk to. Beth’s dad doesn’t drink and has never hit her mother, but Beth is aware that her father is an exception, so instead of it teaching her to trust the police, she learned from an early age that she couldn’t necessarily trust all police officers and that cops often get away with a lot.

Who did they look up to most?
James: James has a great respect for Tsubaki-sensei and her son Hiro (who is about the same age as James), however when it comes to approval I suppose James would be more leaning towards Robert and his mother, he wants them to value him just as much as they value Mac (both James and Mac think of the other as the prodigal son)

Beth: Beth is most likely to look up to her Aunt Charlotte, she’s a fully qualified councilor, doctor of psychology and translator. Aunt Charlotte is also the first person to take Beth’s side in an argument against her mother and to call her mother out on her narcissistic bullshit attitude.

Favourite and least favourite childhood foods?
James: James’s favourite childhood food is minestrone soup with a cheese toasty (cut into quarters). James’s least favourite food is meat (especially lamb) and is a vegetarian and has been so since he was five.

Beth: Beth’s favourite meal as a child wasn’t so much a specific meal but more eating in a particular place. Beth’s best friend Jack and her family run a Korean/Chinese restaurant, which was open until late, so Beth’s dad would often take Beth and Mary there when he had to work late on a case but Aunt Charlotte was unable to look after them and Claire was working shift-work/late hours. As a result, Beth knows a lot about Chinese an Korean food and can be rather picky about it. Beth’s Least favourite food would be Brussels sprouts

If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?
James: James would focus better on controlling his temper and possibly trying to get along with other kids at karate better, try to tell himself socializing isn’t as scary as he thinks it is

Beth: Beth would be more assertive, she’d fight harder for what she wanted rather than just going along with everything.

What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?
James: quiet but devious (definitely one of those kids you would apply the phrase “it’s quiet, too quiet…”), he liked to play pranks on his mother when he was little, like waiting for her to come home from school or work and jumping out and scaring her, which was later replaced with shooting his mother with his Nerf gun. But also the type of child who would ask lots of questions. However, James was also the type of kid who liked to watch documentaries (wasn’t a big Disney fan) and would watch them repeatedly.

Beth: Beth was quiet, especially in comparison to Mary (who was noisy and hyperactive, despite being non-verbal) but she got into the habit of watching people and noticing things. Beth and Mary enjoy Disney and Pixar movies but also enjoyed books.

What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?
James: James’s relationship with his mother is strained and complicated, because his mother had him at fifteen-sixteen, James was more raised by his grandmother, which has caused his mother to feel insecure in his relationship with James. However James in turn feels insecure and resentful in his relationship with his mother because he sort of feels as though as soon as she married Robert and had Mac, she didn’t want him around (she had her “real” son to take care of). it caused problems with Robert’s family later on (though Robert doesn’t care about that kind of thing). I suppose this resentment does affect his relationship with Mac in a way (though James and Mac did get along well when Mac was very young, Mac would follow him around constantly). However, as James is the eldest, he does see it as his responsibility to keep tabs on his younger siblings (he can definitely be overprotective).

James does get along well with his younger sisters and, up until recent events, James and Callum used to get along really well (especially since they have a lot in common). Callum is currently dating a guy whose a lot older than him and James doesn’t approve of the situation (he thinks Callum is being taken advantage of and is worried Callum will get into an abusive relationship and won’t be able to get out of it). James doesn’t want to admit that maybe the situation with Callum is a little triggering for him as he was abused while he was forced to stay at the special needs school for psychiatric evaluation. James was also in an emotionally abusive relationship recently, Justine helped him get out of it, so he understands what it’s like to fall into a similar trap and not realise it.

Beth: Beth and her dad are very similar, where as her sister Mary and her mother Claire are very similar, Beth tends to get along with her dad better than her mum, whom she no longer speaks to and has no contact with at all. Previously, before the big fall-out with her mother, Beth would help Mary with social interactions, help translate for her and sometimes that meant that Beth got shunted to the side or wasn’t a priority (currently in Australia, siblings of kids diagnosed with Autism are granted access to counselling as well but counselling and access to therapy can have limitations). When Beth finally snapped under the pressure and stress of the situation, she decided she’d rather be homeless than go back. Her dad is in a weird position of trying to keep the peace between the different factions and trying to help Mary with her Autism, which puts Olivia in a weird/resentful position as well, Beth feels like her parents were perfectly capable of handling Mary, they just didn’t do it until Beth was no longer in the picture.

This situation did put Beth and Mary’s relationship in a strained position, they have recovered from this with counselling and Beth enforcing personally boundaries (though this is something she does occasionally struggle with). Mary, in a way, knew the situation between her and Beth was at times unbalanced (while Beth resented the situation because it seemed like Mary had all the power, Mary thought that Beth was the one with the ultimate power, as most of the time Beth was often verbally translating for her and sometimes speaking on her behalf). With the help of counselling, Mary and Beth were able to find a better social balance and they were able to repair their relationship. This is the major difference between Mary and her mother Claire, Claire was not willing to acknowledge there was something wrong with the situation and Claire wasn’t willing to compromise at all.

What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?
James: For the first twelve years of James’s life, he was pretty much an only child and due to the social stigma of being a child on an underage mother and having autism, he didn’t have many play-mates. However, he did develop a fondness for role-playing games and as his mother was fifteen-sixteen, she still had things like dolls so he and Rosemary would occasionally do crime show reenactments (Midsomer Murders is one his major guilty pleasure). So James really enjoyed the idea of being an actor, but due to his autism (lack of facial features and monotone voice), he felt he’d never be good enough.

Beth: Beth and Mary would often play cops and robbers type pretend game (Beth being the copper and Mary being the robber), but she never wanted to become a police officer or a nurse, Beth was tempted to become a social worker or a translator but was put off by the working conditions. For a long time, Beth didn’t know what she wanted as most of time she was focusing her energies on Mary. But when she got a job as an Auslan interpreter, she realised that she wanted to get more involved in the education sector.

Wow, I’ve just realised just how depressing Beth and James’s childhoods are, I need to get back to writing so they get the H.E.A they deserve

Links:
Police Have a Much Bigger Domestic-Abuse Problem Than the NFL Does By Connor Friedersdorf

Police domestic violence nearly twice average rate By Kevin Fagan

How Police And Hospitals Shut Down Rape Victims by Danielle Campoamor

Police perpetrators of domestic violence: what do we know and what can be done? by Heather Douglas and Leigh Goodmark

Why Are Cops Shooting Dogs? 5 Things You Should Know by Robert Evans

The Beautiful Books 17: May

the beautiful people 17
Hey there, its time for the monthly edition of The Beautiful People, hosted by Cait and Sky, the reason why there was no edition for April was because of Camp NaNoWriMo, which unfortunately I failed miserably at (I didn’t even get to the 10K mark), then the website borked itself, to which I interpreted it as a bad omen. I think the problem is that I usually do this kind of thing in November, which is the end of the University semester, so I only have work to contend with. But during April I have work, University studies, social obligations (did I mention that my birthday is in April?) and trying to read a couple of memoirs for research purposes. So yeah, not surprised it all fell in a heap.

On the plus side, I have mid-year break from university for 25 June to 24 July and I have a mid-semester break for 26 September to 30 September, so hopefully I’ll be able to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo for July (but I won’t be waiting until July to focus on Pushing Boundaries, I’m going to try for a smaller daily word count until then). I’m hoping to have Pushing Boundaries written, edited and ready for publishing by the 1st of October, which I know is a tall order, but I know I can do it.

Questions:
How often do they smile? Would they smile at a stranger?
James: Rarely smiles (he doesn’t smile intentionally because he doesn’t think he does it right and his attempts to smile or grin have unnerved people in the past) but he does smirk occasionally

Beth: Smiles often and would probably smile at a person she doesn’t know well, especially since she’s traveling overseas and aims to become a Primary school teacher

What is the cruelest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?
James: As a child, bullying was a big problem for James, nowadays it’s more isolated incidents then regular bullying, which was why Rosemary decided to home-school James in an attempt to reduce it and give James the supportive learning environment he needed (which did work to a degree). However, there are two big moments of cruelty that stand out for James, one of them being when Sophia (his step-father’s mother) essentially calls him a devil child, James embraces his status as the spawn of Satan and uses it to humorous effect. However, what hurt James wasn’t so much Sofia’s attitude but the fact that his mother didn’t say anything about it or defend him. The second big moment was when he was forcibly sent to a special needs school (a lot of them function like boarding schools in the UK) for psychological evaluation, however the staff at the school were abusive or unaware/uncaring of the abusive behavior being subjected to the children. Joanna and Rosemary suspected abuse was going on but they didn’t have a lot of evidence of it until another family came forward with abuse claims and concerns, which resulted in a national inquiry and resulted in the school being shut down. However, every time James behaved “inappropriately” or “badly”, his hair was cut an inch, James was there about six months and ended up with a crew-cut. As a result, hair cuts are a little triggering for him.

Olivia: For Beth, it’s a little more complicated, it’s not so much cruelty towards her, it’s cruelty towards her sister Mary that stands out more, though she does have her own emotional scars. Beth had to deal with a lot of emotional and verbal abuse from her mother and some emotional neglect from both her parents. Beth’s dad is a police officer/detective and her mum is a nurse and a mid-wife, so two highly stressful jobs involving shift-work and then there’s the complication of Mary having Autism, which meant that Beth was often shunted to the side or forced to go along with things she didn’t want to do so that Mary could enjoy something and/or have a translator.

To me cruelty isn’t so much a once off event (though I do recognize it can happen), I tend to think of trauma or cruelty as small bits and pieces that add up over time.

What is the kindest thing they’ve ever been told? And what was their reaction?
James: James doesn’t do well with kindness, he’s a bit like a hedgehog in that regard, so he’s always suspicious of kindness. In fact it becomes a sort of conflict point for him and Beth (sort of like “I’m just being nice!” “Yes, that’s the problem, I don’t need your pity!”). But James and Mary develop a good friendship via social media and Skype and that helps James to understand Beth better (it also helps Mary as well).

Beth: Well a big moment of kindness was for her Aunt Charlotte to take in Beth after Claire and Beth had a massive fight (which resulted in Claire physically abusing Beth) and Beth chose to leave the house and alternate between youth centers and homeless shelters. Aunt Charlotte wasn’t given the full story, she was simply told Beth had run away after a fight with her mother, she didn’t realise how bad the situation was at home (otherwise she would have intervened sooner). This caused problems with Claire and Charlotte, but there were problems in their relationship before, the problems with Beth brought it to the foreground.

Another moment was when Beth was homeless and a social worker took interest in her and helped her a lot, Beth was seriously thinking of becoming a social worker rather than a teacher, however the occupational hazards and conditions of social working turned her off the profession and more towards education.

What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
James: Negatively, Lavender scented objects, the nurse that was abusive towards him at the special needs school smelt strongly of it, which results in the smell of lavender being triggering for him.

Positively, it would be the first time he and Justine went to Paris Disneyland for a special event (I think it’s a joint birthday, as their birthdays are close together), James and Justine haven’t been able to go to Disneyland recently due to financial hardships, but James always enjoys going there.

Olivia: Not sure if it’s positive or negative, but Beth as prominent memories of waiting for her dad to come home. Beth and Mary would often sleep in the living room in their own pillow-fort rather in their beds so they could watch and wait for their father to come home. She also has a strong memory of Mary’s accomplishments, so that whenever Mary’s feeling depressed or frustrated, Beth is able to help her or give her a different perspective on the situation.

What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?
James: For James, I think it’s more a problem of Joanna not being to understand (and therefore handle) James’s Asperger tendencies, so I think Joanna (and James) would benefit from reading Look Me In The Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison

Olivia: Beth is already a big reader so probably Travel books about the UK or a History of Scotland books (which Rosemary and James will be providing, in fact I intend to write a humorous scene with Rosemary doing a power-point presentation to Beth on Scotland and Glasgow)

Have they ever been seriously injured? How severely? How did they react?
James: James has had a couple of serious injuries, like a bad shoulder dislocation, via Karate (it’s one of the reasons why he got into Tai Chi as well). However, over the course of the novel, James gets badly injured, he’s shot twice (non-lethal but he loses a lot of blood), Joanna and Beth get into a fight about the situation, Beth ends up feeling super guilty about James, she moves out and attempts to stay at the nearby youth hostel, however Justine steps in and intervenes.

Beth: Beth hasn’t been seriously injured before, but over the course of the novel, she’ll end up with a very serious looking facial injury/bruising and James will feel super guilty about it because he thinks it’s his fault it happened, that he should have protected her better (which is totally not true, it’s not James’s fault at all)

Do they like and get along with their neighbours?
James: Not really, in fact he’s super paranoid about that and gets into arguments about their lawns and recycling practices

Beth: She gets along fine with her neighbors, she tends to keep to herself mostly, however during the novel she tries to help James with his neighbor problems.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?
James: I would consider James to be a 6.5 or a 7 (depending on the situation), he has a rigid schedule and routine he follows and enforces but the system does work.

Beth: I would consider Beth a 3, Beth tends to be focused on her job/studies and is mostly a homebody, also a lot of the conflict and humor arises from Beth finding loop-holes in James’s contracts and routines just because she can.

If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
James: James doesn’t really like traveling, however he does enjoy visiting Glasgow (to see his grandmother’s half of the family) for short periods and he does enjoy going to Paris to visit Disneyland (he’s not a big fan of anything else)

Beth: Currently is visiting the UK, but she would love to visit Edinburgh and Paris respectively.

Who was the last person they held hands with?
James: James tends to be physically affectionate with people he’s close to like Rosemary and his siblings when they were young, but it’s not something he does naturally, it’s something he has to put effort into. In a romantic relationship he tends to be an overly affectionate person (perhaps even clingy).

Beth: Beth isn’t very physically affectionate, also because she’s an Auslan interpreter, it’s generally considered a very intimate act to hold or touch a person’s hands. However the person Beth is most likely to hold hands with is her sister Mary (who tends to be very physically expressive and is affectionate)

Links:
~Paper Fury: The Beautiful People #17

~Further Up and Further In: April Edition