A new sunrise

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Greetings from the great beyond!

Firstly can I apologise for the non-existent posts over the last year or so. My life has taken a dramatic twist and I am still running to keep up with it all.

After many years of crying and stalking publishers on the net, I had my first short story published. More details on that to follow.

I am now a single parent, and as such I am finding new meaning in the word ‘tired’.

I’ve gone from employed to, ‘oh my god is that beans down your shirt, and please not another episode of Paw Patrol’.

And for the most recent, I am embarking on a business idea with my friend and co-writer Heidi Busby Brown. It could be something extraordinary, or send us into a obliterating despair spiral leading to diabetes and drinking in the day.

All in all, it’s working out to be an interesting and fun-filled year so far.

So now I’m finally able to return and take up the mantle that is my blog. I look forward reacquainting myself with you all and hopefully having some fun along the way.

Please watch this space for all the magnificence and absolute (guaranteed) train wrecks to come. Can’t wait to throw myself back into the writing world and feel like me again.

Happy Writing!

 

 

 

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Don’t Do That! – Five for Friday

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I’m running so late today.

It’s been a frantic week as we’ve had builders working on the house.

‘The noisy one’, was sent home from school with chronic earache and ‘The bitey one’, is teething and as a result, extra bitey. He has also become a fan of early wake up calls, the most recent being 3am.

So I apologise as this may well become Five for Saturday which really doesn’t have the same ring to it, but at least my intentions were good and my caffeine levels high  🙂

I’m currently knee-deep in editing my novel and really enjoying it, even if I am lacking a little in time and focus.

I began reading my draft I’d completed in November during NaNoWriMo. This brought me to the horrible conclusion that I’m a terrible writer and should probably take up woodworm breeding as I seem to have little talent for anything else.

Therefore, I decided I would make this week’s Five for Friday about,

5 Things to avoid when Writing a Novel.

1. He grinned, he shrugged, he smiled…

Apparently I seem to write first drafts full of these. Everyone is shrugging, grinning and smiling at each other so much that it’s a wonder they haven’t all been committed. All that’s missing is a little maniacal laughter a maybe a shopping trolley full of tins.

Don’t do it. It’s not clever. It’s repetitive and lazy writing. Instead hit yourself on the head with your keyboard twice and go lie down with a damp flannel over your face.

2. She decided to run as he would probably kill her. 

Okay, this one’s a little clunky, but you get the idea. I see this a lot and it’s just bad, bad, bad.

NEVER warn the reader what’s going to happen before it happens. It’s annoying and WILL result in me flinging the book across the room, or, if it’s my kindle, trying to close the page down, miss, and end up hitting the screen repeatedly like some kind of zombie typist.

3. Really, very, suddenly…etc,

…and a number of other weasel words.

If you ‘d like to see a list, that’s by no means exhaustive, take a look under ‘Writer’s Resources’ on my page.

My first drafts are littered with these and I pull out every single one unless they are absolutely necessary. Especially ‘Suddenly’. This word should be tied to a chair and left watching re-runs of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’, until it’s very sorry.

4. Bad formatting. 

I have read so many kindle books where the words stop abruptly and begin again half way down the page, or they have large random spaces between words like the book suddenly forgot what it was talking about.

Go through your book again and again. Re-check when you add it onto kindle and then bore all your friends to death by making them check it too. It’s worth it.

5. I don’t know/I think you should/Why is that?

I hate wooden dialogue.

There’s nothing worse than wading through a page long conversation between Data from Star Trek and The Terminator, or worse, a book full of characters that ALL sound the same.

I have a wonderful acting friend who helps me with mine. She runs through it over the phone or highlights potentially hazardous wording via email and returns it to me, accompanied with a recent entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, to teach me a lesson.

Either way, read through all your dialogue out loud. Get a friend to read any opposing parts and it will become clear where needs work.

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That’s it for today. It’s now 1am and officially Saturday.

Thank you so much for reading, and good luck to anyone else on the long road to Editville.

Have a great day and Happy Writing!

 

 

Dear January, 2016

I felt it only fair, after the month my family and I have experienced, that I bring a couple of things to your attention.

First two weeks were spent with head-splitting migraines.

Third week caught flu. Hubby ended up in hospital with severe chest infection and also flu.

Everyone besides ‘the hungry one’ ended up with it and are only just beginning to recover.

David Bowie died.

Then, Alan Rickman!

Yet I hear Justin Beiber is doing quite well.

This is not good enough January!

February…I trust we will be seeing an improvement???

The Fun of the Fair – Friday Fictioneers

Hello Everybody, It’s been a while 🙂

Here’s my contribution to Friday Fictioneers, I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you to Ted Strutz for the image today. And also thank you to the lovely Rochelle for running the challenge. If you’d like to have a go, pop onto her page and take a look at the prompt. Write your story in 100 words or less and post it up. Good Luck!

 

The Fun of the Fair

‘What if one of them throws up?’ Ray laughed and we both took a step back.

‘Do we have to go on that?’ I grimaced. The people above had now become a continuous blur of colour.

‘Come on, where’s your sense of adventure?’

‘It’s still on the waltzers with its head between its knees,’ I replied. ‘There’s some nice pedalo’s over there.’ I pointed to a lake in the centre of the park.

Ray turned to look just in time. Vomit cascaded down and hit the floor hard, splashing onto his shoes.

He looked up at me and grinned. ‘Pedalo?’

100 Words

 

Why perspectives are like shoes.

Have you ever bought a pair of shoes/trainers/clogs?

They are the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen (maybe not the clogs). You tried them on in the shop and gloried at how they looked.

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‘Wooden Shoes’ by Bill Longshaw, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

You get them home, get on your matching dress/jeans/lederhosen. Place them on your feet only to find that they are more uncomfortable than David Cameron reading E.L. James.

So, either you do as I do. Go without shoes and claim you gave them to a homeless person on the way – this can also win you brownie points for your selflessness.

Or you minimise the time you move and when you do, try not to look like a raptor wearing heels.

Writing persectives can be the same kind of thing thing. It seemed like a good idea at the beginning, but now you’re half way through the story, somethings happening and you’re feeling uncomfortable.

The above example is a little obvious. But what if you have many characters all in the same place? How do you know which perspective to write in?

Like the shoes, you’re only going to know when you’ve worn them around the house and crushed the backs in a bit. (Shoe lovers gasp in horror!).

So if you’re not sure, try them on.

Here’s an example of a story of my own. It has four characters. Three of which are in every scene. So I’ve wrote a version from each of those character’s point’s of view.

The eldest sister – Christine;

‘Is it dead?’ Meri stared up at me with teary eyes.

I nodded, poking its fat bloated body under the thorny bush that bordered the garden. She buried her face in my trousers.

I huffed, loud enough for her to hear. ‘God, don’t be such a baby, Meri.’

She clung to me tighter and I felt the pang of guilt settle in like an unwelcome guest. Bending down, I peeled her from my leg and brushed her hair from her face.

‘It didn’t feel any pain,’ I said.

‘How can you be sure?’ Her brow furrowed as she looked down at the wretched creature.

‘Because the exterminator said so, that’s why,’ I said.

The next one is from the Mother;

I watched from the kitchen as Christine poked at the thing with a stick. Meri looked up at her, lip trembling, as if her heart would break.

Christine had never been a compassionate or loving child. Even from an early age. She spent her time fishing carp out of the pond or catching mice to tease the cats. A perfect partner for her father to go hunting with.

Not like Meri.

Meri was, softer, innocent. She didn’t have that cast-iron shell her older sister had developed so well.

Christine shoved the creature under the hedge with a sharp jab. Then she bent down and took Meri’s face in her hands. She couldn’t hear what was said, but as the two headed towards the house, Meri was smiling again.

Obviously this is completely useless as a perspective, far too far away from the action and doesn’t take the story in the direction I want it to go.

Then finally, the perspective that I chose. The little sister, Meri’s, perspective;

‘Is it dead?’ I clung to my sister’s leg as she poked its fat bloated body.

‘Yes,’ she replied. The toad rolled over. She gave it another sharp prod pushing it underneath the thorny hedge that edged our garden.  I buried my face in her trousers.

‘Don’t be a baby Meri.’ Christine’s eyebrows knitted together and I turned away.  She gave a heavy sigh and bent down, her dark brown hair brushing the ground.

‘It didn’t feel any pain,’ she whispered.

‘How can you be sure?’ I frowned and looked back to the poor innocent creature, lying discarded like a broken toy.

‘Because the exterminator said so, that’s why.’ She brushed my fringe out of my eyes and tucked it behind my ear.

With this perspective I can be close to the action, but not to close, therefore still keeping the tension as the story unfolds.

This choice was pretty clear for me from the beginning, but not every story is the same.

If you’re having trouble with a story and you don’t know who to choose, take the story and write a beginning from the perspective of each character. When you do, the choice will become clear.

Good luck with your stories, and if anyone tries this, (or the clogs), I would love to hear your results.Maybe it opens up a perspective you didn’t think of before.

Until next time, happy writing!

Please note: Lederhosen are not traditionally worn with clogs. It’s just that clogs sounded funnier than Bavarian footwear 🙂

10 Things I haven’t done yet!

As part of the “Writing 101” course, we’ve been asked to write a list. So here’s my list (by no means complete), of things I haven’t done yet 🙂

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Image courtesy of Photl.com

  1. Stuff chocolate cake in my mouth and then smile at a stranger.
  2. Finish my book. (Or, in fact, any project that I ‘ve started in the last five months).
  3. Bake a lemon meringue pie that isn’t brown or inedible.
  4. Finish reading one of the four books I’ve started reading during the past four weeks.
  5. Wear a sombrero to a parents evening.
  6. Laugh loudly in a lift full of people for no reason. (This is made slightly more difficult since I’ve got a buggy and not so many people can fit in the lift).
  7. Finish an important poem I’ve been working on for the last three years. (I fear there may be a pattern forming…)
  8. Meet some of my favourite authors without coming across as a crazed stalker.
  9. Find where the large spider in my front room has gone (while secretly hoping its made its way out of the house and far away and took all the other spiders with him).
  10. Eat dinner. I’m starving and now struggling to think of anything besides food.

How do you do it?

With pen and paper?

Straight to screen?

With a sparkler…or perhaps an Enigma machine for the extremely paranoid?

Each writer has their own preferred method of working.

Stephen King writes longhand onto yellow legal pads. J K Rowling writes longhand then transfers it to screen – editing as she goes. George R. R. Martin writes straight to computer using an old DOS machine.

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When you first start out, the writing process can be a little daunting. So I thought I’d talk about how I do it and hopefully some of you will weigh in on the comments later about your favourite ways too 🙂

I write with a good ol’ pen and paper. A biro suits me best, although I’m partial to the Parker fountain pen when I want to pretend I’m a really real writer.

I used to work straight onto the computer, but my children have been fitted with an alarm system that only they can hear. So if I go near a computer, open a book, or try to stuff a chocolate bar in my mouth before they make it to the kitchen, THEY KNOW.

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I also feel I’m a little less creative using a computer. It’s great for editing. I can sit there, nose pressed up to the screen with a slightly desperate expression, and most people know to keep a safe distance.

But when I’m in the first stages of a story or script I prefer the pen and paper. It feels more natural to me and I’m likely to think more about what I’m writing as it takes me longer to write than it does to type.

I write in fifteen minute bursts. It roughly adds up to about an hour and a half per day. I set the timer on my phone and I get as much down as I can. When the time is up. I put down my pen and do something else.

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I think writing this way keeps it fresh. I come up with all sorts of ideas I would never have thought of if I was doing one long stint. Plus if I can’t think of anything, I’m only staring at the page for fifteen minutes…This drastically reduces the time I sit crying, leaving more time to console myself with cake.

So that’s how I do it. How do you? Would love to know your thoughts, especially if you do it with a sparkler.

In the meantime, Happy Writing 🙂