The Treasures of the Sea – descriptive writing

I wanted to share this section from one of my practice GCSE English Language papers – the prompt having been ‘describe what you see and experience as you dive downwards to explore under the sea’. This question was probably my favourite part of the paper, as it let me set my creative side free a little more than the rest of the questions did. Enjoy!

As your body breaks through the clear sapphire waves, you sink downwards, towards the golden sand. The first things that catch your eye are fish – fish in every colour of the rainbow – and more! Some float lazily by: others disappear with the flick of a bright fin. Then, your attention turns to the expanse of a coral reef that stretches as far as you can see. Underwater, everything is full of colour – just… colour tinted with a green-blue light, as the sun struggles to force its way through. Here, though, it manages to reach, bathing everything in a soft light that gently shifts with the water above. One ray of light rests for a moment on the closest section of the reef, highlighting a formation of corals. Fragile corals – the longer you look, the more the intricacy of each precious piece reveals itself. Each section of coral is beautifully formed, but none is quite like any other.

An octopus reveals itself for a moment as you float over it, before shrinking back into a crevasse. A hidden gem amongst corals – one of many. Even if you looked forever, you could not reveal all the secrets of the sea. Other gems bury themselves under the sand – various creatures, concealed by minute grains of gold. The entire sea is like a treasure chest, enclosing unfathomable treasures in ever the smallest sliver.

The silence is broken by a sudden chittering noise, as three dolphins skim by. With water all around them, they almost seem to fly, moving effortlessly. Propelling their sleek bodies swiftly forwards with a flick of a grey tail. Following their movement, your attention is drawn to the wreck of a ship. Bare bones – not hiding treasure, but hidden by a sea-full of it. And suddenly, your view is obscured – by a huge shark that drifts lazily by, pushing you aside with the water it displaces. A whale shark, mouth stretched wide to gather food.

A swarm of shining silver fish coil and wind their way past, the weak sun that breaks through the water sending glints of light bouncing in every direction. One breaks away from the shoal, nosing at an oyster before deciding that it will proffer no food. Oysters may hold potential riches to humans, but to a fish, this sealed oyster is a waste of precious time. Oysters and colourful shells are scattered everywhere – a living explosion of beauty. Limpets glue themselves to rocks, setting themselves in like jewels in a necklace. But even as more jewel-like fish stream by, you know that your time here is over. You scoop up a shell from the sand, and take one of the sea’s treasures back to the surface with you.

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Writing A Novel in 30 Days – What Happened?!

As you may be aware, a month or so ago, I was attempting to complete 50,000 words of a novel, in 30 days. But then I kind of… disappeared, with no explanation as to why…

Previous posts – Introduction, Week one, Week 2.

Basically, I got hit with a summer that was even busier than I had expected it would be, and I decided to prioritise other things over writing. A special friend of mine came to stay, and I really wanted to enjoy every moment I could with her, so my novel took a back seat. We had a lovely week  – no regrets! And then summer hit, and I had a mad amount of camps come flying at me, meaning there was just no time to write. So, I did not complete my challenge.

However, before I stopped, I managed to write 19,255 words of my story – an achievement that I am very pleased with – and that reminded me of something that’s important to remember when undertaking this sort of project. You should aim for your goal, of course – until the very last minute. But if you fail to reach your goal, it’s important to remember that you did manage some of it. And that completed section of your task – for me, those 19,255 words out of 50,000 – is something that might not ever have existed, had you not tried in the first place. If you hadn’t started, none of the project would be complete. So I may not have written 50,000 words of this WIP.

But, I wrote nearly 20,000 words that might never have been written otherwise. And I’m very proud of that.

Now that summer is over, and normality is settling in again, I’m working on my story again. And I’ll keep working on it until it’s done – until, at the very least, the first draft of my story is completed. And then I’ll move on to the next project, and the next – because you have to start something before you can finish it, and every step you take – however short – is another small step towards your final goal.

Poem – Seven Stairs

This is a poem about the wonders of imagination, and how it can transform something as simple as a flight of stairs into a world teeming with glorious adventures. I hope that all who read this enjoy it, and that it inspires them to let their imagination loose on something simple, and see where it takes them…

First step –

Fairyland.

Full of light and magic

Second step –

A pirate ship.

Adventures on high seas

Third step –

A magic carpet.

Soaring through the sky

Fourth step –

The waiting step.

Where I sit ’till dad gets home

Fifth step –

The hurting step.

Where Maury hit her nose

Sixth step –

Last one before bed.

Where mum comes to kiss goodnight

Seventh step –

The landing.

Entering another world.

Seven stairs:

Going up, going down.

Betwixt two places,

Thousands lie.

stairs

Leibster Award – Part 2

Part 1 here.

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re back… with part 2! Let’s hear the facts…

  • I have never, ever been to school, as I’ve been homeschooled my entire life.
  • Last year, I chopped off and donated all of my hair – going from hair down to my waist to buzzed everywhere except a sort of fringe at the front.
  • I love funky socks – especially socks with animals on. I used to have a whole set with sheep on, and the ones I’m currently wearing are covered in pigs.
  • Something I really like to make is bookmarks – sometimes I draw/design them, and sometimes I use things like pretty tissue boxes to make them.
  • I collect 50p coins – I’ve been collecting them for as long as I can remember, and have 26 different designs.
  • My favourite play is Shakespeare’s ‘Henry V’.
  • When I was 11, I broke my collarbone from going flying over the front of my scooter.
  • I bring a book everywhere! Even if the likelihood of having time to read is non-existent, I’ll still bring a book 😀
  • I’ve been playing violin since I was 8.
  • For the last 259 days, I have taken a photo of something – I’m aiming for 365 consecutive days of photos.
  • I’m going to the sea this week, and I’m so excited! I can’t wait to share all the photos I take!

And now, for the questions…

  • What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?
  • What is the food you hate the most?
  • Would you rather live in a house with no heating, or no dishwasher?
  • What is the worst book you’ve ever read?
  • If you could have any animal in the world as a pet, what would you have?
  • What is the one thing you want the most?
  • What’s your favourite song?
  • Which accomplishment are you the most proud of?
  • What is something you’ve always wanted to do, but never done?
  • If you created a new colour, what would you name it?
  • What’s the most interesting thing you’ve heard/learnt recently?

Honestly, I don’t really have anybody to nominate – so consider this an open invitation. If you fancy taking a crack at answering my questions, feel free!

Book Review – Warcross by Marie Lu

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire. (From Goodreads)

(Read about my first impressions of this book here.)

For me, Warcross was a pretty quick read. It was one of the sorts of books that moves very quickly, and so you want to keep picking it up and seeing what comes next. I would say that there wasn’t really a moment where the action stopped – it swung from scene to scene very quickly, with barely a break in between. Also, the one scene that really stuck out as being more chilled involved the reveal of a little mystery, so even the chilled bit wasn’t really a part where I wanted to stop reading.

One of the parts of this book I enjoyed the most were the descriptions of the settings. All of the Warcross worlds that were mentioned sounded beautiful, and the the city of Tokyo sounded amazing!

Skyscrapers that disappear into the evening clouds. Highways stacked on top of one another, drenched in the red and gold lights of cars racing by… Kaleidoscopes of colour and sound everywhere I look.”

Another detail I especially enjoyed was that wearing a special pair of glasses (the ones used to access the world of Warcross) allowed translations to appear when people spoke. I thought that it was a fun idea! Also, I personally think that the whole idea of glasses allowing you to see a whole new world is a cool one, because my glasses kind of let me see a completely different place. In Warcross, the glasses allow somebody access to a world where anything is possible, and allow certain things in the real world to be seen in certain ways. To me, my glasses allow me to actually see things, rather than just splodges and blurs. Yay for glasses! This did, however, strike me as something quite similar to Ready Player One, as they use special gear to see and access the Oasis in that book. It’s interesting to read about these potential ways of accessing a new world, especially seeing as similar, slightly more basic technology is already being created and used!

Overall, Warcross was an alright book. It was maybe a little fast-paced, and a bit too predictable to be an amazing read – I guessed what seemed to be the major plot reveal as soon as a certain character appeared, and I feel like said reveal was a little too obvious. But… it had a few redeeming features – like some good characters (especially Emika and the rest of her team – they were fun to read about, and sounded like kinda cool people), and a fun idea. I’m not really a fan of video games in general, but I do find it interesting to read about the idea of ‘virtual worlds’, and also to see this alternative dystopian sort of world, where everybody pulls away from the horrors of reality and fully embraces a fake world.

So, to sum all of that up – I enjoyed Warcross. I do think that it could have held a few more sub-plots, to add more detail and to slow the pace of the story down a bit, and maybe could have held a little more mystery, seeing as the mystery was the main driving force of the story. I’m not leaping to read the next book in the series, but I definitely would consider picking it up, and I think I will explore more of Marie Lu’s writing in the future.

Come to the Library with Me – 30/08/18

I thought it might be fun to write a blog post about my recent trip to the library. I went in with a few objectives, and came out pretty successfully (let’s just say that I wound up not even able to close my rucksack, so many were the books crammed inside).

I went into the library the other day with three things to do – one, submit a short story I’d written for a competition; two, find a few leisure books to read; and three, find as many books as I could from the massive list of potential A-level texts I’d brought with me. I kid you not, it must have had at least 70 books on! Of course, I didn’t expect to find them all, but I wanted to find at least a few, as I need to read them for my studies.

My trip started with an absolutely lovely bike ride into the nearest town to my home. My route only goes on the road a little bit, and then takes me into this big open grassy area, before going through a graveyard to get to the library. It was especially lovely to cycle through the graveyard, as the half I cycle through is full of old, mossy stones and big trees. Even though it’s surrounded by roads, it’s like a little section of peace as you head into the town, and it’s really lovely to go through. I then locked up my bike outside the library, and popped into a few shops (to complete some errands). There were so many back to school shoppers around – it was mad! I’m surprised there was any stationary left in any of the shops 😀

I then walked back to the library (side note, our library has a dragon sculpture/statue thing on the outside, and I love it – books + dragons = happy me). I submitted my story, and then went to browse the YA section. There were so many new books there – love it when that happens! I had to really limit myself, though, as I already had a large file folder in my bag. So, I selected three books to take home and read for fun – one of which I’ve read today, not only on my way to work but also whilst waiting for my bus home, and on the bus.

Then, I headed over to the adult fiction section, as some of the other books I needed to find were Classics, and I guessed that was the best place to look for them. It took me a moment to figure out how the shelving worked, as it’s all slightly confusing, slap bang in the middle of the library, but once I got it I was whizzing through. I found three of the books I needed there, and then headed into the non-fiction sort of area to find the drama section.

The selection of plays that I discovered was much more fruitful than what I found in the adult fiction. Not only did I find quite a few of the plays I was looking for, I also found some notes, essays, and other useful analytical resources on some of the Shakespeare I needed – so that was an added bonus!

Mission as complete as it was going to get, I checked the drama section one more time, and then turned my attention to how on earth I was supposed to get the 13 books I had now gathered to the checkout machine, let alone my bag. I managed to get them to a table, and then stacked them up as best I could. Some of the books were pretty thick, and others were really narrow, so they were pretty slippery, but I got to the machine safely. Next problem – getting them in the bag.

I checked them out bit by bit, slotting them into every pocket and space I could, and JUST managed to zip my bag up. It was really, really heavy by this point, and I could hear the seams protesting when I picked it up. I was a bit worried that the straps were going to come off!

My last challenge was that I then had to grab some cat food on the way home – I had to half empty the bag, squash the cat food box, and ram everything back in, before halfway zipping the bag. I kept looking over my shoulder at it on the way back, to make sure nothing came out.

But, I got home safely, with my entire stash of books, and I look forwards to dipping into them further!

Library trip = success!

Did you like this post? Is this sort of thing something I should write about more often? Let me know what you think!

Literary Teatime – Chocolate Date Fruitcake from ‘A Thousand Perfect Notes’

The amazing blogger, Cait (Paper Fury )‘s debut novel, ‘A Thousand Perfect Notes’, recently came out (!!!), and in it, she describes a very delicious-sounding cake. And then, she teamed up with Alison (Alison’s Wonderland Recipes), to create a recipe for the aforementioned cake! So, of course, as I love baking, and I love books, I jumped at the chance to make something that combined the two in such a tasty way.

Here’s the description Cait gives of the cake in ‘A Thousand Perfect Notes’…

It’s like fruitcake but also almonds and also small explosions of chocolate and the occasional chewy date.”

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And here’s the recipe, if you fancy having a crack at making it yourself! (I’d really reccomend that you do)

Now, making this cake was very fun indeed! I had some help mixing from a few of the little people in my house – and thankfully, not too much of the cake mixture escaped the bowl! It smelt amazing throughout the entire process, and I could not wait to sample it!

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The cake itself looked amazing – on the outside and the inside. On the outside, it had a really appetising appearance – all golden-brown and yummy-looking, and the inside was packed full of dates and chocolate. And the taste… wow. It was really, really good. All of the flavours worked really well together (I was slightly skeptical about that at first, but need not have been), the chocolate was lovely and melty; the dates added some nice chewiness into the mix, and it was all perfect together! The cake disappeared very quickly indeed, and everyone in my house who tried it agreed that it was jolly good!

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Thank you Cait, for writing your wonderful book, thank you Alison for creating the yummy recipe, and thank you both for sharing it!