Thursday, 23 February 2017

IS BAREFOOT ON THE WIND #OWNVOICES?

Hello, hello, hello, Dear Readers!

Today, as you might guess from the blog title, is a piece with some thinky thoughts. These are the thinky thoughts I've been having, on and off, about BAREFOOT ON THE WIND since it came out and since and I began to see reviews of various aspects of the story.

It's by no means a definitive Voice of God type of thing - I've no wish to lay down the law about the book or how anyone else should interpret it. I just thought that it might add value for some readers to know some things about the book and how it relates to my own experience and identity.

So, really this post came into being at this point because of the urging of some lovely folks on Twitter. One person DM'ed me to ask if I had meant for Hana to read as an asexual or greysexual character. I told her that I had written Hana very deliberately as greysexual, because I was a greysexual teenager once - although sadly I didn't even know that term existed at the time! I now identify as asexual, however.

Another tweep listed the book as a piece of respectful representation on the grounds that it portrayed mental illness in the form of Hana's apparent depression, but said she was unsure if she should call it #Ownvoices or not. I told her that I, too, have suffered with depression since being a teenager. What's more, after the death of my Father I also went through a period of what is known as Complex or Complicated Grief in which I was unable cope with my bereavement, suffered with overwhelming feelings of guilt and responsibility for what had happened, and wished fervently that I had died in my Father's place. I based Hana's mental state on these experiences.

It suddenly occurred to me that because I had written this book in a secondary world in which terms such as greysexual/asexual and depression simply did not exist, that some readers who might be eager to find representation of those marginalised identities might completely miss it. I'd already read several reviews which expressed disappointment that Hana's relationship with Itsuki in the book wasn't more 'passionate', or mentioned that it seemed more like a friendship than a romance. Those choices were deliberate - they charted the progression of a greysexual person's developing feelings as I experienced them - but how could readers know that when I'd been unable to put the correct label on Hana's identity without being unforgivably anachronistic? Should I be tweeting about this book and calling it #Ownvoices in order to help ace/greysexual and non-neurotypical readers know that stuff was in there?

I looked on the website of the writer who coined the #Ownvoices hashtag - Corrine Duyvis (Hi Corrine!) - and she said she didn't really want to try regulate the term: she just wanted others to be able to use it in whichever way seemed valid. But she felt as long as the author and the protagonist shared a specific marginalised identity, it pretty much counted as far as she was concerned.

This all led an animated discussion on Twitter. Many people chimed in to say they DID feel the story counted as #Ownvoices. But then the author and We Need Diverse Books founder Ellen Oh (Hi Ellen!) chimed in to say that you can't really call a book #Ownvoices if the author doesn't share the protagonist's ethnicity. And I don't. Although Hana's secondary world is a fantasy one, and her ethnicity doesn't really exist in this world, her culture is BASED on Feudal Japan, which means her ethnicity is, too. And, as Ellen pointed out, for a white author to put the hashtag #Ownvoices into play to promote a book in which the main character does not share her ethnicity feels perilously close to a form of cultural appropriation.

At this point it became clear that this was all way too complex to really sort out on Twitter. So I thanked everyone and went off and continued to think about it for a while more before deciding: yes, I should address this on my blog. Because that way people have the relevant information - a more nuanced and complex version of the information than I can possibly offer up in 140 characters - and they can make their own minds up.

Tl;dr - BAREFOOT ON THE WIND features a greysexual, mentally ill protagonist, and those parts of her marginalised identity were based on the author's own experiences as a greysexual, mentally ill teenager (and on later experiences of bereavement). But the author does not share the character's ethnicity, in so far as that ethnicity is based on Japanese culture.

Phew! I hope that all makes sense! Any questions or comments, muffins - toss them in the comments :)

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

ARE FAIRYTALES FEMINIST?

(Originally posted on PewterWolf's blog - revised 15/2/2017)

When the title of this post was suggested to me, I found myself a little conflicted. Can fairytales be Feminist, I asked? Or is this an unanswerable joke question, like whether Grumpy Cat has a Communist agenda?

Let’s just take a moment to remind ourselves what Feminism actually is – untainted by any of the wonky ideas that society may have about it, or any of the behaviour of individual people who reject or embrace the concept. It’s pretty easy:
Feminism
noun
“The advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”
Basically, Feminism is the struggle to ensure that all sexes (there are more than two, FYI, but that’s a whole ‘nother blogpost) have equal rights. A Feminist individual is someone who believes in equality regardless of gender and hopefully works in whatever way they can to bring that about.

So... are fairytales Feminist? Maybe that's the wrong question. Maybe a better way to phrase it would be: Can fairytales be Feminist? Do they have the potential to embody Feminism? Or is that impossible?

Because the thing is, folklore and mythology from pretty much any society you care to name certainly seems to depict a lot of highly sexist attitudes, not to mention celebrationg the Patriarchal societies that spawn those attitudes. And this makes sense. Though initially fairytales were contemporary, evolving narratives, they began to be written down - and considered ‘finalised’ - in Western Europe throughout the 18th and 19th century. They reflect those historical modes of living which were prevalent during that time – when men wore trousers and girls wore skirts, and if they swapped at all it was for reasons of comedy or in order to preserve female virtue.

They haven't really been allowed to evolve since then. We consider those versions the 'originals' or the 'classics' rather than just one of many different possible iterations of archetypal tales. As such they’re filled with a lot of ideals that woman are still fighting against - hello, diametrically opposed innocent damsels (virgins) and wicked ambitious older woman (whores) all desperately hoping to snag a man! And there are an awful lot of young, aggressively heterosexual males rushing in to save the day... and the depictions of people of colour or non-Christian people is pretty awful. The depiction of non-straight people is nonexistent.

But fairytales – the ever changing, oral stories to which our current, sanitised, Disney incarnations are only distantly related – stretch right back to the time when humans were still figuring out what humans even were. When firelight was all that stood between us and the howl of creatures in the dark, and for all we knew a fairy, dragon or young God might be lurking around the next tree trunk any time we went out to cut wood. They contain archetypes, larger than life, fundamentally human characters and quandaries which, while they MAY be warped and stretched and manipulated to reflect the politics of whichever person or society promotes them, are still able to rise above – or sink below – cultural mores in order to share essential truths.

What are fairytales about after all? What questions do THEY ask US?

What is love? What is good – and what is evil? What does it mean to be brave? How should we react to injustice? How can we better our own lives, and what are the risks if we try? What makes a monster? What is a hero?

These questions are ultimately ageless. And a-political.

Our individual interpretation of fairytales, the prejudices and perspectives we ourselves bring to these archetypal stories, are what make them either positive or negative. And individual interpretations can vary, at last count... preeeetty much to infinity.

For instance, Cinderella may be a dutiful and obedient girl who never takes any steps to better her own life because her highest goal is the proper, 'feminine' one of attending a ball in a pretty dress – whose beauty is rewarded when she happens to be young and lovely enough to catch the Prince’s eye (marrying up in society being any woman's dream, of course).

OR... she might be a resolute and morally ambiguous young woman, who cunningly uses the ball to leverage her youth and beauty in order to gain the prince’s power for her own ends.

Beauty might be a dutiful and obedient girl who allows herself to be sacrificed in place of her father, and who, after being bullied or emotionally blackmailed into marrying the monstrous being who imprisoned her, is rewarded when he turns out not to be physically repulsive anymore (though his personality may still be in question).

OR... she could be a ferocious young hunter who goes after the Beast of her own free will in order to destroy him and the curse, and who chooses instead to save him, in the end, because he has proven to her that despite his beastly exterior, he is truly worthy of love.

But these Feminist ways of re-imagining our familiar fairytales – taken from my books Shadows on the Moon (Cinderella) and Barefoot on the Wind (Beauty and the Beast) – can be very controversial. Not just among Mans Right's Activists! Even from a Feminist viewpoint.

The recent Disney live-action Cinderella promoted itself with the motto ‘Have courage... and be kind’. You’d think this was a mild enough statement that no one would get cross about it, but you’d be wrong.

Online, many people rose up against the idea that a young woman suffering under injustice and abuse from her family ought to care about being kind – surely survival would be the order of the day? ‘They’re encouraging young women to be weak!’ was the battle cry. ‘Don’t tell them to be kind, tell them to fight!’

But before anyone could blink, an equally strong counter-argument blew up, stating that kindness was a Feminist virtue, that striving for some kind of unrealistic butt-kicking ideal of femininity that eschewed goodness and kindness for macho ideals of ‘strength’ was ignoring the real struggles of real women who had survived – and might still be living with – abuse. ‘Living in a bad situation you can’t get out of isn’t weakness!’ these people declared.

Who’s right? Who knows! Both, most probably.

The fact is that, just as with magic itself, fairytales can be used for good or evil. They have the potential to be both damagingly misogynistic AND empoweringly Feminist. Like most questions of story, the final interpretation is down to the reader themself to make.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

KINDLE HALF TERM PROMOTIONS!

Hello, lovely readers - no, your eyes do not deceive you, this is the second post in one week. *Le Gasp!*

Not a long one today, unfortunately, as in real time I'm actually on my way to a meeting at my prospective university for my Royal Literary Fellowship, which is both super exciting and super intimidating. But I have other good news!

As of today The Swan Kingdom and Shadows on the Moon are both in the Kindle half-term promotion, which means they're on sale for 99p and £1.09 respectively! Pretty good deal, especially when that's the new version of Shadows on the Moon with exclusive new content, which retails for £7.99 for a paperback.

I'm hoping that being included in such a high profile promotion aimed at young readers over their February half-term will give the books a chance to find a new audience (since, depressingly, many of my young readers have basically grown up now and are adults whose achievements both stun and humble me).

So if you want to share details of these rather spiffy deals on your Twitter feed or Facebook (or Instagram or any other newfangled thingie) for your friends or relatives to peruse, then do feel free - or just grab a copy of one or both of these books for yourself if you've been wanting one.

Have a lovely Wednesday, muffins. Here some new picspam of Ruskin for good measure:



Why does he always appear to be half asleep in these photos, you ask? Because it's literally impossible to get him to stay still without lunging for and attempting to consume the camera at any other time, I reply with a faintly unabalanced laugh! Puppies, folks. They be trippin'.

Monday, 6 February 2017

RETROMONDAY: CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT IS HARDER THAN IT LOOKS

Hello, Dear Readers! Happy (ha ha - yeah, sorry) Monday to you. I've got a super busy week coming up and my puppy is still a total maniac, regularly forcing me out of bed before six in the morning and giving me about ten seconds of peace per day, but I've been feeling pangs of guilt about neglecting you. So I thought I'd resurrect a grand old Zoë-Trope tradition: The RetroPost!

In this case, we have CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Harder than it Looks, dredged up from the dim and misty recesses of the past (four whole years ago). Enjoy, muffins!

* * *

It's time for another one of my opinionated posts about writing. But half of the credit for this one goes to the inimitable and lovely Holly of my writing group, with whom I was recently grousing on this topic. Hi Holls!

What were we grousing about? The fact that both of us (reading on opposite sides of the Atlantic ocean, no less) had lately picked up so many books which had fantastic central premises, which were well paced, pretty well written, full of exciting incidents and maybe even had some initially interesting characters but which - despite all this! - somehow in the end left us feeling... empty.

Unsatisfied. Cheated. Frustrated. Unmoved. Convinced, somehow, that the whole exercise of turning pages - despite the exciting incidents and great premises and decent writing - had just been a waste of time.

After we'd been talking in detail for a while about the various books which had disappointed us this way and trying to figure out just what was WRONG with them, one of us (who knows which one - it was a loooong moaning session) suddenly put our finger on it. The problem was character development. Or, rather, the lack of it.

Now, you might think this would have been an obvious problem for two writers to notice and figure out. But actually the lack of character development in these books was being masked by the fact that the main character's life was often being totally transformed by the end of the story. All kinds of seismic shifts in their abilities, their home environments, their romantic lives and their family situations were going on. It seemed crazy to say that these characters weren't developing. But they weren't.
 
We realised that in all these books, although the heroine - it was normally a heroine - might have experienced massive changes in her situation by the end of the story, she very rarely experienced any change in her character. She was always essentially the same person by the finale of the story, no matter what she had been through. And the finale normally consisted of her getting what she had wanted all along - without her ever having reassessed those desires, or questioning why she desired what she did in the first place.

In fact, it was like the authors had gotten confused on the difference between plot and character.

In my head, I could just imagine these writers proudly saying: 'Look at my character's amazing arc! She goes from a lonely teenager with no idea of her true heritage to a superpowered elf with a hot elvish boyfriend and lots of elvish friends!' Or maybe: 'My character develops from a cold and solitary existence as a lab rat in a secret government facility to a free person and a member of a warm, happy family!' After a bit of checking, I found many reviews which talked about the plot and the character development in this way, as if they were interchangeable. It seems this is a common misconception. Common enough even to fool the editors who should have caught this and helped their authors to overcome it.

Because, you see, those descriptions above do not touch on any character's arc at all. Nor do they count as character development. They describe plots. And when a plot is serving double duty - trying to be a character arc too - the events (no matter how well paced, well written and exciting) of a story will feel essentially empty. It doesn't matter if the stakes are as small as a girl longing for a date to the prom, or as epic as The End of the World. If the change in the character's situation isn't significant enough to change *them*, then why on earth would reading the book make the reader feel changed?

These books would turn the heroine's whole world upside down. They might kill off her best friend right before her eyes, remove her from the only family she knew, or tell her that she had a secret heritage she never knew about. They would pit her against life-threatening danger, maybe force her to develop frightening new abilities, make her fall passionately in love. Surely I should have been gasping, crying, thrilling?

Yet none of those events, no matter how outwardly shocking or traumatic or wonderful, ever really moved me. The way they were depicted simply skimmed over the surface of the profound emotional effect on the character that should have been the whole point of those events in the first place. It was as if the writers thought that these Big Important Events by themselves were enough to involve my heart. But the End of the World (the world the writer has created) and everyone in it means absolutely nothing to me if the writer cannot show me what this means to the POV character.

In the best books, characterisation and plot are so entwined, so integral to each other and to the events of the book, that they do almost feel like the same thing. But they have fundamentally different functions within a narrative, and trying to create a decent story without one or the other is like trying to have spectacles without frames, frames without the lenses.

Even if you do turn your plain, lonely teen into a superpowered elf and give her a hot boyfriend and an elvish family, you still need to make sure that her established traits, beliefs, insecurities and priorities are challenged, strengthened, destroyed or resolved by the end of the book. We need to see that everything she has been through has affected her meaningfully. If the heroine starts the book longing for someone to love her and ends up with a family and boyfriend, that is very nice for her - but it's still plot and not characterisation.

Remember that you're a writer, not the wish-granting fairy from Cinderella. Don't just look at your plot as a series of events that get your hero or heroine to a desired outcome. Not even a series of awesomecoolsauce events. Look at them as ways to push and challenge your character, to display her traits and develop her personality. Readers long to see the main character become the person they should be, not just get the stuff they want.

Your main character doesn't need to evolve into into an entirely new being by the end of the story. In fact, it's better if she doesn't. Changes that happen to the character throughout need to grow naturally from who they are at the start - their core qualities - and the particular pressures that the story and the plot events put on them. The last thing you want is to have the character do a complete u-turn and become someone unrecognisable. That's not satisfying either.

So maybe your elvish heroine started the story as a selfish and insecure girl who was callous to others because she was afraid people would see how vulnerable she was - and in order to get the family and the love she always wanted, she first had to realise that she must treat others well, and be willing to risk giving love, with no guarantee it would be returned?

Maybe she was frightened and timid, a girl who refused to take risks - and she had to find the seeds of courage inside herself, even risk losing the ones she hoped would love her, before she was worthy of them?

Or maybe she was filled with self-loathing, yearning for affection but still convinced she didn't deserve it - and had to learn to value and care for herself first, before she could finally find a place among people who would value and care for her the same way?

Those are CHARACTER arcs. See how they differ from the plot ones? They're about learning, changing, growing, not about getting stuff.

You need to ensure you're putting time and thought into your character's development even if you're writing the first volume of a trilogy or series. In fact, it's even more vital, because if I think you're holding stuff back from me in book one I'm probably not going to bother to go and buy book two. I need to feel that you've got a character arc in your mind as well as a plot one.

An easy way to figure out if you've achieved worthwhile character development is to give your main character or characters a choice. A pivot-point, somewhere near the end of the story. Arrange events so that things could go either way - disaster or triumph - and make the whole thing hinge on a moment of choice for the character. If they act the way they would have at the beginning of the story? Disaster. Maybe even if they act the way that they would have midway through the story. So they need to have grown and developed enough that you feel they could reasonably go in the other direction. Then you and the reader will be able to see that they have become who they were meant to be, and that they deserve their happy ending (if you've been nice enough to give them one!).

A great example of this is Katniss' decision at the end of The Hunger Games. At the beginning of the book Katniss' one priority is to win, to survive the Games by any means necessary, because she believes that Prim needs her - and because she doesn't believe in anything other than that. By the end of the book, she is willing to swallow poisonous berries along with with Peeta rather than sacrifice her soul by trying to kill him and let the Capitol win. She has changed significantly because of the events of the story - but we still see the qualities of bravery, strength and self-sacrifice that Katniss had at the beginning of the book, too. Those traits have been challenged, stretched to breaking point, but ultimately reinforced by her ordeal.

In Closing: plot is about going places, doing things and getting stuff - changes in situation. Characterisation is about changing, growing and learning stuff - changes in the character's core. Make sure you have both these things running side by side, and you will make Zolah a very happy reader.

I hope this makes sense to you, my lovelies. Any questions? Pop them in the comments. Read you later!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

HAPPY (BELATED) PUPPY DAY!

Hello, Dear Readers!

Apologies for the long delayed nature of this long promised post. I don't have the spoons to spin it into any kind of coherent (let alone amusing) narrative right now, but suffice it to say that the arrival of the puppy heralded a great deal of anxiety, stress, sleep-loss and drama, and I've been lucky if I've managed to scrape together even an hour on my computer on any day for nearly a fortnight. Attempting a blogpost probably would have finished me off.

Much of this stress and drama is connected to the puppy's health. He managed to eat half a puppy collar - complete with spiky plastic clasp - while at the breeders and didn't vomit it out until he'd been with me, and miserably ill, for three days. It was nearly four times the size of his tiny stomach, and as a result it did a lot of damage inside him. Getting it out in one piece was kind of a miracle. It could have been much worse. But it was still pretty bad. He's been in and out of the vets for x-rays and other treatment and had to be admitted for nearly 48 hours due to dangerous levels of dehydration.

But he's on the mend now, and since he's actually dozed off in daylight hours (for more than five minutes!) I thought I'd better hurriedly put this together while I had the chance - or else you might not get it at all. Like any new parent, I'm currently getting up around every two hours in the night (toilet training: it is Hell) and I might doze off at any second.

So, let me introduce you to Ruskin:











I went with Ruskin because I thought it looked like it fitted him, and I'd just re-read Diana Wynne Jones' The Year of the Griffin (thanks for reminding me, Phoenix!) which features a small, gingery character of that name. I've actually been *calling* him Finn about half of the time, but he doesn't seem to mind too much.

Now that he's doing better I'm hoping to start work on my WIP again, which I'm excited about - although I'm trying not to be too excited, since puppies laugh at the best laid plans of men, and often piddle on them for good measure. Wish me good luck with that, muffins! I'm pretty sure I won't be posting again for a while - unless something really interesting happens, of course, and I just HAVE to post - but I promise I will be back with you as soon as I can.

Pray for toilet training success, everyone!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

LOVELY NEWS: A ROYAL LITERARY FUND FELLOWSHIP

Hello, delightful readers! I know I said I'd be absent for a bit - and I'm going to be, never fear - but I just had to come back and let you know this wonderful piece of news that I've been sitting on for ages. And I mean aaaaages.

You may recall that in 2011 the wonderful Royal Literary Fund - an institution dating from 1790 and supported throughout the centuries by such luminaries as Dickens, Thackeray, Kipling and A. A. Milne - made me an incredibly generous grant when I had just lost my job. This enabled me to continue to care for my father full-time during the slow and painful decline of his last years, and also to write and publish THREE books during that period, which kept me relatively sane. Those books, most probably, would never have been written without the Royal Literary Fund's support.

But the Royal Literary Fund doesn't just help to support writers who are in difficult financial situations. They also run a very successful and prestigious scheme called the Royal Literary Fund Fellowship, whereby:

"Writers work one-to-one with students in universities, using their expertise in language and communication to help them develop their essay writing. Writing Fellows are appointed based on their literary merit and aptitude for the role..." 

Basically the RLF matches really good writers up with really good universities, and the university gives the writer an office of their own and access to a computer and the internet, and (usually two days a week) the writer has appointments with students to just help them get it. Help to pass on all that extremely hard-earned knowledge of how language actually works and how to use it effectively to convey your ideas, to students of all ages, races, interests and abilities.

As someone who has written literally hundreds of thousands of words right here on this blog (and thousands more on other blogs) trying to understand and explain All About Writing, the RLF Fellowship is something I really approve of and believe to be not only worthwhile but probably *vital* for students to reach their full potential. In 2016, ninety-one Fellows worked in fifty-six universities across the nations of the UK.

And in 2017, I will be joining them!


I've emailed the RLF to ask for application forms for a Fellowship on two previous occasions and, both times, I chickened out. It felt a bit cheeky to be putting myself forward when the Fund had already done so much for me, and, what was more, I have no teaching experience or qualifications and didn't even go to university (as I talk about here). How in the world could I imagine that I was good enough for this sort of 'Fellowship'? It even sounds important!

But back at the beginning of 2016 something snapped, or maybe clicked for me. Instead of timidly requesting the forms for a third time and chickening out and sadly tucking them away uncompleted, I applied my own writer's skills and did some research. I spoke to some current and past Fellows that I was lucky enough to know. I watched the videos on the RLF website, and I read every single bit of information on offer there (which is a staggering amount, actually). Then I talked to some people who weren't Fellows, but did run writing courses or had been to uni - and this might have been the most useful bit of all, because those people assured me that, based on the way I wrote about the technical aspects of writing on my blog, they were sure I had what it took to do such a job.


So I started to fill in the forms. And as I did, I suddenly remembered that during the nearly ten years I worked as a civil servant I had been *constantly* mentoring and teaching people. I was always the first to volunteer to help train the new staff, and I always loved doing it. Often mentoring people wasn't even any kind of an official role - I just went ahead and did it because I could see that they needed help and I knew I could explain what they needed to know in a way that would really make sense. Sometimes my managers would appreciate this, and at other times they told me off for taking time out of my 'official job role' to teach people to do things in all these new-fangled ways that weren't on the official training hand outs. Sometimes the official trainers would come to me on the sly and ask me to help them write new official hand outs because 'Everyone knows you're really good at this...'

I did it because it's a part of me: I can't stand to watch anyone fumble about in the dark if I can shed a bit of light. And the best part for me was always watching that moment when someone who'd been confused or worried or upset suddenly just got it, when they lit up that darkness themselves with new understanding... man, that gives me shivers just talking about it. It's the best.

So I filled everything in, wrote all this down, and sent it off and waited really, really nervously. I could not BELIEVE it when I got an interview in August, or when the very nice man who interviewed me basically said right then and there that he thought I'd make an excellent Fellow. I needed to keep it under my hat until it was officially confirmed, but unofficially: I'd made the grade.



Well, it's now been confirmed that I should get a posting in a university this Autumn (although I don't know which one yet) and so it felt about time to share the news with you. I'm excited and apprehensive and expecting to learn just as much as I teach, which is how I know I was really right to apply. And oddly enough, I'm actually looking forward - among other things - to being a part-time writer again for a bit. To not only having a steady income (yes, definitely looking forward to that) for at least a year (and maybe more if I'm lucky) but also to being able to see my writing less as a routine day-in-day-out job that I must do six days a week, and more as the joyful part-time activity that I fit in around other things. Like it used to be. I think it'll be fun.

That's it for this week, Dear Readers! The WIP is going well, and you'll hear from me next week on Puppy Day, but after that it'll probably be a while - so take care! xx

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

PUPPY UPDATE

Hello, Dear Readers! I hope you've been having a lovely winter solstice season (or summer solstice, if you're on that side of the world). A quick update for you on the future Zoë-Trope mascot. Here are some pictures and a video that the breeder sent on Christmas Eve:






 (Scroll up and down to see all the puppies)
 
You can see how much he's changed, just in the past couple of weeks - not only in the way he looks but in his confidence. He's already got so much personality for such a tiny puppy. I'm really excited (and scared, as well, just slightly) to finally get to meet him. A couple of weeks ago I felt a bit panicked and unprepared, but at this point I'm incredibly eager and just want January to come.

Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post, voting for favourite names or offering new suggestions. At the moment I've definitely got one particular favourite among all the potential names I listed and that's what I'm mentally calling Puppy Marriott. However I don't want to commit to it here yet, since - as I said in the last post - sometimes you meet a dog (or a baby! This happened with my middle niece) and the nice shiny new name you had picked out all ready for them simply doesn't fit.

This is probably the last update I'll post for a while (unless the cute overwhelms me again). I'll let you know when the puppy arrives and post some new pictures then, but I expect to be pretty sleep deprived for a few weeks after that until house-training is mostly in place - you can't really expect a new puppy to hold it for more hours than months they've been alive at first, so I'll probably be getting up every two hours or so to avoid accidents and ingrain the message that he goes to the toilet OUTSIDE.

And since I'm typing, a work update too - Codename: DtH is currently going really well. I had a startling brainwave about a particular character and plotline a week ago - it seems much longer! - which has already yielded all kinds of interesting stuff for the story. This is making me keen to get as many words down as I can before the blog mascot arrives and my writing time takes a temporary nosedive, which is the main reason the blog will be quiet *before* Puppy Day.

Read you later, muffins!
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