Monday, 2 March 2015

Where To Write and Have Tea In Brighton

Today, for fun, I thought I'd share with you all some great places in my hometown of Brighton where you can write and have tea (or a hot beverage of your choice!) in comfort and style. The places I'm sharing all have unique atmospheres, but I find them highly conducive to writing.

Now, this is by no means a comprehensive guide. I haven't even scratched the surface of the places where you can go. These just happen to be some of the most fun.

Small Batch Coffee Company

Small Batch is a brilliant Brighton coffee shop company. I don't drink coffee, but everyone I know who does tells me theirs is the best. I can definitely tell you they know how to do tea properly. They use loose leaf from Jing and, after brewing it, pour it into an empty pot so it doesn't steep too long and lose the taste.

Small Batch have a number of branches across Brighton and Hove. I did try and pick my favourite, but I actually can't because I like to write in all of them! These photos are from their Norfolk Square branch (which is right on the Brighton/Hove border), but the easiest one to find for non-Brightonians is definitely their Jubilee branch.

Oh, and can I also recommend their hot chocolates? They are the best in Brighton. So chocolately, so smooth, and just the right amount. Yum!

Cafe W - Waterstones

This is quite new, as it used to be the best Costa in Brighton. While I was very sad the Costa disappeared, the replacement is wonderful. They serve Suki Tea, and look how cute it is!

The cafe is spread out over two floors. I recommend going to the third floor if you're looking to get some work done, as the second floor section is in the children's area, and children aren't exactly the quietest ;)

Pavilion Tea Company

If you're coming to Brighton as a tourist, you need to go to the Royal Pavilion. It's one of the most amazing building's you'll ever visit in your life. And then, on your way out, you can stop off for tea in their smaller tea room (there's a larger one within the Pavilion itself, but you have to pay to go around the Pavilion to access it, unlike this one). It is quite little in here, so this isn't the place to go with a writing group, but for one to three writers, it's a nice fit and it's small enough that you won't be too distracted. Plus check out the great teapots! Those things are heavy, and they make a great cuppa! 


This might be the most Brighton of all coffee shops the city has to offer, because it is just so eccentric. I mean, this was opposite my table:

The downstairs of Marwood looks like every Internet Meme ever threw up on it, and as such has to be experienced yourself. There's something to laugh at on every wall. My personal favourite is the shrine to Brian Blessed ;) It's so busy in here, but in such a madly creative atmosphere, it's easy to get some writing done. Well worth visiting when you're in Brighton, if only so you can see what awaits you when you open the door to leave... ^_^

So, there you have it! A handful of places to write when you come to the wonderful city by the sea that is Brighton.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Research - What to Include and What to Leave Out

Attention to detail, like so many other things in writing, is down to personal choice. As a reader, I like a smattering of detail that will pull me into a world and make me curious. I don't like having everything described down to the minutest detail. I want the writer to not only know what they're talking about, but to also trust me to imagine things for myself. Unsurprisingly, that's how I operate as a writer: use just enough detail to leave the rest up to the reader's imagination.

However! This does not mean I never do research. After all, I need to understand what I'm writing about, otherwise the story won't make sense.

Mmmm using cupcake sprinkles as a visual metaphor for how much research to include....

My current WiP required a lot of research into the Victorian era, and not just about mediums and psychics. I had to look up what London Underground stations existed in the 1860s, whether or not a piece of classical music I wanted to use had been composed in this era (which it hadn't, so I chose another piece instead), journalistic writing styles, why people could afford massive stately homes and how ownership would pass through the family, and what medicines were available to Victorians. I also had to ask a friend who's currently living and working in China about a few Chinese festivals. So, it's all been rather educational lately!

However, not every detail I read about wound up in my book, because the story didn't require academic conclusions on why the Victorians were so fascinated by messages from beyond the grave. Neither does the story need me being all "BASK IN THE RESEARCH I HAVE DONE FOR YOU ALL!!!!" No one likes a know-it-all, right? But I needed to know, which is why I had to do the research to begin with. If I didn't know, I wouldn't be able to give my story any sense of realism. My knowledge underpins my writing, and gives the story depth. Hopefully, I've done it in a way that's enough for a reader's imagination to take flight and picture it however they want.

For me, it's all about balance. If there's too much research threaded into a plot, the story can feel bogged down with infodumps. Too little, and readers might feel the meaning is lost on them. It's like those cupcakes; too many sprinkles and it'll be too sugary to take. Too little, and the cake will be bland. You've got to get it just right. And, of course, that's totally up to you.

How much detail do you like in your stories, both those you read and those you write?

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a bloghop hosted by Jaime and Erin. Stop by their blogs and join in.

What I'm Reading

I'm having an epic CLAMP re-read. I've finished Tsubasa, xxxHolic, and X. I really want to re-read Cardcaptor Sakura, but my volumes are so old, they're literally falling apart. I'm going to have to wait until I can afford to buy the more recent omnibuses before reading that one, so I think I'll turn my attention to Magic Knight Rayearth ;)

I really need new versions of X, too. Mine are "flipped" and have really out-of-keeping English sound effects scrawled all over the beautiful artwork. *sigh* Where's a lottery win when you need one? ^^;

What I'm Writing

Still dabbling ;)

What Works For Me

New music! I've been spoiled for choice with music from Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts lately.I really can't recommend the beautiful Final Symphony album enough. It's an orchestral album of music from Final Fantasy VI, VII and X. It's wonderful. You know when music is so emotive it gives you chills? That's this album for me.

What Else I'm Up To

The day job. I'm rapidly approaching a busy period, but the good news is I'll be off to America at the end of it, so I really can't complain :P

Monday, 23 February 2015

Miss Cole's Tea Time: Kusmi Breakfast Tea

Today's tea is becoming a favourite. It's been a while since I featured a breakfast tea, so why not go with the strong and unique Kusmi blend? It's a Russian-founded company now based in France, and should I ever find myself in Paris, I'll be sure to find them! Until then, online orders and the London shop (which I hope to visit this weekend!) will have to do ;)

You can't help but admire how beautiful that tin is. Such lovely artwork! I've had this caddy for a couple of years now. It definitely stands out, and so does the taste.

It has quite thin leaves, so you are going to want to brew it for at least four minutes to really get the best taste. I also recommend a scoop and a half per person, otherwise you'll miss out on its great flavour. And be sure not to use too much milk if you don't brew it for long enough, because you really will overpower the taste. I find it to be smooth, with just the right kick at the end, which is what I want from a breakfast tea. Gentle enough to ease you into the day, while simultaneously making sure you're awake and ready to write.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Monthly Soundtrack Reviews: Gone Girl

Soundtrack: Gone Girl
Year: 2014
Composer: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Stand Out Track: What Have We Done To Each Other?
Works Well With: Horror, Thrillers

This soundtrack is very different to all the others I've reviewed thus far. And I promise there will be no spoilers for the book or the film within this review, so don't worry if you've yet to experience the story yourself.

The music on this soundtrack has such a dark undercurrent. On the surface, some pieces are gentle and nice, but the longer they go on, the stranger they become. Discordant noises underpin the melodies. Just give Sugar Storm or Like Home a listen, and you'll hear what I mean.

The music is very reminiscent of the Silent Hill soundtracks. The Way He Looks At Me, with its drum beat and bizarre accompaniments, would fit perfectly into that game series. It's why the Gone Girl OST is such a great tool for people writing horror or dark thrillers. Some tracks seem to drip with madness, which could translate quite nicely into a tormented character. Perpetual sounds especially claustrophobic, like nothing can be trusted. Consummation is terrifying in its steadily increasing urgency. It really sounds like something's coming to get you.

While this isn't the kind of soundtrack I'd stick on in the car, it's perfect for writing grim, terrifying, and tense moments with. Can't recommend it enough for those of you who like a creepy edge to your work.

Do you have a favourite score to write horror with?

Friday, 20 February 2015

Time Wasting Or Finishing What You Start?

This post follows on from last week's discussion regarding changing genre. Are you wasting your time on a book that isn't working? Are you forcing yourself to crank out a story that isn't really what you want to be writing?

Maybe I'm a quitter, but I don't see the sense in forcing myself to write a book that isn't working. For me, that book was MagicalGirl!Story. I felt like I had to get it done because it started out so well. Unfortunately, the editing revealed a lot of problems, problems that I rapidly lost interest in fixing, especially when I had such an exciting new idea crying out for attention, an idea that, like Colony, would not be ignored.

This book is pulling me in! Aaaaaaargh!

Forcing myself to work on something I didn't like wasn't really getting me anywhere. I wasn't improving as a writer. I wasn't enjoying myself. As a writer without an agent or an audience, I don't actually owe anyone else anything. I owe myself to do the best work in the hopes of gaining an agent and an audience. When that happens, my self-serving attitude will have to change, but right now? Nope. The only person my writing has to satisfy is me. And that's why I stopped wasting time on the book that wasn't working, and moved onto the one that, thankfully, worked out really well...

...Well, I like to think it did. I'll have to wait and see what the beta readers think, won't I?

And who's to say I won't go back to MagicalGirl!Story one day with the power to fix it? Maybe I will. Right now, however, my energy is needed elsewhere.

How do you feel about quitting something you start without finishing it?

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

What's Up Wednesday

Yup, it's that time of the week already! Come and join in Jaime and Erin's bloghop and tell us all about your writing week.

What I'm Reading

I finished Debt of Honor. I struggled with this one. And I struggled with how to sum up my reaction to this book without going into a particularly long rant. The short version is it jumped the shark. The long story is it's racist, sexist, and uses rape as a plot device to ensure the main character first becomes Vice-President and, under 100 pages later, is the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. Seriously! That's what the unresolved and appallingly written rape subplot winds up being: a narrative device. The victim is completely forgotten. UGH. And all the "good" guys handling the case are like "Oh, these poor women. NOT ALL MEN ARE RAPISTS!" Oh yes, it has a "not all men" argument. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!

Suffice to say I am done with this series. I never should've read past The Sum of All Fears. *sigh*

Now I'm re-reading one of my favourite manga series of all time, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle.

What I'm Writing

My book is off with the first round of beta readers! Commence nail biting ;) Right now, I'm just doing what I like to call "ticking over" writing. So it's nothing in particular, but it's keeping me from stopping entirely.

What Works For Me

That week off sure did! Can't believe I wrote and sent a draft out to beta readers within two months O_O Personal record for sure.

And always celebrate the small victories. You deserve it!

What Else I'm Up To

Violin. With a combination of practical and theory, it's really starting to come together. My teacher wants me to take my Grade IV exam in the summer ^^; Eep!