WHY RHYTHM AND PACE ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT AS CHARACTER. THE RISE AND FALL OF A NOVEL.

Haute Tension

Haute Tension (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tap, tipetty, tap, tippetty, tap, go my feet along to my favorite songs on the MP3 player. Easy as pie, my head hears the beat and my feet they automatically know what to do. Oh dear fates now I am singing along and I have a voice that the local foxes and tomcat would be proud of.

When it involves music, its instinctive, you hear the beat and something in you knows what to do, connects on that cellular level that we are all instinctively looking for when we write. Music moves us, and we don’t have to do a thing……

Writing is different, it takes a lot of shitty firsts just to get the language right and once we’ve completed that and it’s readable we then look to structure. How long is this bad boy? Do I really need 120,000 words to say this or could I use fifty grand instead?

Where do I show? Start as close to the end as possible you say okay, “The End”, doesn’t seem that effective, begging your pardon. Use a hook for every paragraph? Are you fecking kidding me?

Okay, now I am exhausted reading it, so that doesn’t work.

This is my nemesis now, the rise and fall. I am not writing a thriller. So having my characters fall from one calamity to the next every paragraph doesn’t quite suit, I want drama and tension to come through, but I don’t want to manufacture nasty stuff to happen just because everyone tells you that you must have your character in deep doo-doo all the time. I am not sure it’s right.

Tension,is what I am trying to create and then resolution and then further tension, my novel should rise and fall like the ocean, sweeping the reader along with it. Disaster, then climax then build again. I want it believable and musical. I want my readers emotions to travel with them on the journey and whilst some of this is achieved by likeability and hateability of the central characters. A lot of this will happen via the structure and flow.

My perfect reader will be on a journey with my characters towards realisation. Not all my characters make it. In fact many that start the journey will fall and their friends and family will be irrevocably altered by their loss. Some for good and some for ill.

It’s creating that wave-like structure that I am finding the most challenging (along with everything else.) I seem to either have too much happening or too little, it’s such a fine balance.

I’d welcome suggestions from others who’ve struggled with the topic of pacing?

Are there any great craft books, you know of that deal essentially with this topic rather than anything else?

MY ATTEMPT TO BALANCE THE FORCE. WRITING AND WORKING.

Book cover, The Loyalty Effect (revised editio...

Book cover, The Loyalty Effect (revised edition) by Fred Reichheld (Harvard Business School Press, 2001) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I worked out a couple of months ago that to have any chance of achieving my dreams within writing. Something was going to have to give.Working 60 hours each week and trying to focus the rest of any time that I am not asleep with creativity and be present in my marriage and life was becoming impossible.

So I put my best foot forward and accepted some requests I’d had from other companies to go to interviews.

I didn’t apply for any of these new jobs, they came looking for me and now that I am two interviews away (two separate positions) from a new role with more time for writing I am really nervous.

I know that the move is the right thing and that in the long-term, I’ll have far more time to focus on my Book, the disadvantage is that with any new role comes those first six months where you are picking up a new culture and learning intensively every day. Long term I’m good but short-term it’s just as tough.

Back to the loyalty piece then. During this process I was also approached by a direct competitor of the company I work for with an offer for a role with a significant pay rise. Not just a couple of hundred extra a month. MUCH MORE.

I went along to the interviews because the company had a real refreshing out look on the work life balance and believes that productive people are those who are well rested and well-adjusted and not comatose with overwork. They had a leave early policy on a Friday and is very flexible in this regard.

I got through to the fourth stage, did all the psychometric tests, the logical truth tests, Yada, Yada. They asked for all my package details the night before the last interview. They wanted to make me an offer I would never be able to turn down. The only thing I needed to do was show up and barring swearing, arriving naked or killing someone I was good for this role.

I couldn’t do it, first thing in the morning I removed myself from the process. I know it sounds nuts but I don’t want to leave the current company on bad terms and it would’ve been bad terms. Frogmarched to the door, leaving, car, phone and laptop. I’ve seen it happen to others. The other two jobs I am still in the running for, whilst a similar role (better money) aren’t for direct competitors and whilst they’re never going to be happy about me leaving (for any reason) I wouldn’t have the bad terms hanging over me.

The Managing Director of the company wanted a chat about why I’d withdrawn and I explained my reasons to him. He didn’t get it. He was shocked that I would put some form of emotional attachment (loyalty) to my current employer above my own needs. He explained he’d done something similar and yes, it had been a distressing process to go to a competitor but he’d never looked back.

I just can’t do that…. I’ve never left a single company on bad terms and I am not about to start now.

Am I nuts? Is loyalty dead in the workplace?

The secret to writing and the reason why this is Awesome!

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you want to know a little secret? Come closer and I’ll tell you. Now, are you sitting comfortably, got a drink? Go on, go get one, your favorite tipple or a hot chocolate, I’ll wait…

You all set? Great,

Ready, Set, Here it comes……..

“Writing isn’t easy.”

Phew, I said it. Did you think I was going to give you the secret sword of wordsmithing? Do you think that there is some sort of magic bean that instantly transforms you into a genius who wee’s excellence? Or perhaps one ring that rules them….. Sorry got carried away there.

We all wish there was and we’ve all seen the sales patter..

“Sign up for my webcast where I show how you can write a bestseller with next to no effort on your part…” and all for just 500 fat ones… Ohh PURLEASE

Ever thought that if you could just…… find the magic keyword that opens the door to blockbusterville closely accompanied by the six figure publishing contract (where we don’t have to market or speak to people), that everything will be okay? It won’t.

Success in life is about persistence and luck. You have to keep at it and be ready when luck comes knocking. But before luck can pull up at the welcome mat (you are not naked are you? Good Gracious, put something on… No not the jogging bottoms.) you are there prepped and ready for it. So here’s my reason/s why it’s great that writing is so hard.

1. If it was easy everyone would be doing it….

If writing a novel or writing in general was a cake walk then everybody would do it. I know that at times it may seem that everyone IS doing it but they’re not. It’s just the writers resources and blogs where you have hung out. Most people don’t do it or can’t do it and that’s just great for you and me. Less writers, less competition – mwah, ha, ha, ha….. I am stroking a cat, she is long haired but she definitely does not have a diamond collar.

2. If it was easy everyone would finish it…..

Most people never finish. There are hundreds and thousands of dusty manuscripts and half written poems or short stories lining drawers everywhere. If you’re gonna do this writering you have to finish. A half-written story is a broken promise. Now you are not the sort of person who breaks a promise are you? Good. I thought not. (Please in the name of all that walks and crawls do not let this be me…. 9,600 and a full stop to go.)

3. If it was easy everyone would do it well….

Yes, I know a lot of poorly written and unbelievably dire books are out there. If everyone did this well, how would you and I distinguish ourselves against the rest of them? It’s  our error free original wonderful creative voice that makes us special. We don’t just ship, see point 2, we ship rainbows and cream cakes and the smell of grass after summer rain.

So yes this writing is hard and it takes time, persistence, sweat, tears, anger, frustration and love to create.  But that is why the fact that we are writers and we write is AWESOME.

Comments, as always are welcome.

Are you a writing Screw-Up? Five things I learned the Hard Way.

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films (Photo credit: Wikipedia) A story that should have flopped.

We all secretly wish to write award-winning, book/article/blog selling perfect prose, the minute we lay our fingers on the keyboard and we all are slightly disappointed with our first drafts, when it turns out they are less than perfect. We may all understand that “crappiness” is part of the process but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

There are five distinct screw-ups I’ve made that have taught me how to get better at this writering and I’d love to hear from you about what you’ve sucked at and how it’s helped you improve. So, here’s my Top Five.

1. OBSESSION WITH W.I.P. TO THE EXCLUSION OF ALL ELSE

I have been guilty of putting my writing ahead of absolutely everything and become obsessive about it to the point of a detriment to my day job (the one that pays the bills) and my personal relationships. This sucks and has not made me a better writer. Nothing, not even this writing means you should stop interacting with life at least some of the time. Don’t look at me like that, writing appeals to the loner in all of us, but without life experiences our writing is in 2D, it’s thin and lacks authenticity.

2. NOT PUTTING THE EFFORT IN

Okay, this is where I go the other way and hang out on social media and try to loosely prove to myself that “building a platform” is more important than the W.I.P. What is a Platform anyway? I’m not an oil-rig worker, I’m a writer! I’m a complete idiot when it comes to building authentic relationships via social media and that’s the new BUZZ message? Communicate, make friends and be real. But in  150 characters or less.

Or then there’s Procrastination which sounds like a disease and has the same ravaging effects. Whilst cutting yourself some slack is a good idea, there are times when you just have to sit down, suck it up and string sentences together.

3. PANTSER OR PLOTTER?

I am a Plotter who Pantses. I am now only about 10,000 words away from the end of the first novel and I am going to have to go back and plot and cut and re-draft. The second book will be fully plotted out before I start. It’s easier in the long-term and I’ve noticed a butt-kicking awesome lift in my productivity when I have a clear idea of where the work is going. A structure allows me to take the work in a different direction. A plan doesn’t restrict, it frees my creativity. Currently I have a lot more work to do because I didn’t do this the first time.

Whether you are a Plotter or a Pantser, just accept it and move on. Plotters don’t understand Pantsers and Pantsers don’t understand Plotters. We are two seperate sides of the Force. Of course I now realise that Pantsing is the DARK SIDE…..

4. REPETITIVE WORDS

There are lots of turns of phrase and words that as a new writer you are going to find a lot of in your work. I’ve listed mine in an earlier post. We all struggle to move our writing on. I thoroughly recommend creating a list of those words you overuse and then searching them out in your prose. Don’t remove every instance where you use them, as there will be occasions where they are completely correct and fit. Again we are back to the word balance…

5. THINKING ABOUT MY AUDIENCE

There will always be room for great stories and I need to accept the fact that all the storylines have already been taken. I don’t think there will ever not be a place for writing about all the great archetypes in our world. Yes, things do go through a cycle and you may find for a decade darker style fiction where everyone dies and there are no happy endings are in vogue, the next decade happy endings, hope and redemption win out in the light. My best example of this is Star Wars, a tale of heroes that became a major success in the same decade that gave us Scarface and Taxi Driver. Some stories will always “just” work.

Write what you want to write and stay true to yourself. Although some more fiction for grown ups and not teenage girls would be nice. Just saying.

COMMENTS, AS ALWAYS WELCOME. May the force be with you…..

The balance between real-life and writing.

Blah! Party logo

Blah! Party logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been less than perfect in my day job this week and simultaneously stifled and unable to write in any downtime. Not that there’s been a lot of that….. I’ve clocked up sixty hours this week. – I am not going to throw a pity party about it, that was yesterdays post!

So how do you manage the demands on your time when you are struggling to finish your novel and trying to hold down an intense job that pays the mortgage?

It’s tough and it’s not a subject that gets covered in a positive way by a lot of the advice blogs you read. I think the usual general gist of it is to –  suck it up…. It’s just the journey of being a writer – Blah, Blah.

I’ve seen strategies and spreadsheets. Advice that tells you to get up half an hour earlier. To try harder because you are obviously not utilising your time properly.

Helpful eh?

I think you need to show balance and when you find yourself short on time, focus on the things that count. Sometimes there is stuff more important than writing or building a platform or engaging in social media or anything like that.

How long have you had this dream for? If you are anything like me, it is decades now. Is it going anywhere? – Nope, it’s here to stay. So don’t sweat it and don’t give the inner demons a chance to wheedle their way in. Because once they start they won’t stop and if you let them get a horn in the door of your mind they’re likely to convince you to quit…. AGAIN.

So cut YOURSELF some slack, you are not procrastinating, hey it would be lovely to have the time to procrastinate.

There are probably people in your life and they deserve your love and undivided attention, too. That Novel is not gonna let you warm your feet on them on a cold winters night and they deserve better. They know it’s important to you, they put up with being a writers widow/er so give them some valuable time.

You will come back to the writing, tomorrow or the next day because you gave yourself some room to let it settle. You placed things in the right order of importance. You cut yourself some slack.

It’s only when we force it that the inner demons get into their stride or we end up thinking about what has to give… Something always has too eventually. So stop beating yourself up about it and go hug a husband or spouse or family member or even a little person.

Comments, as always, welcome.

Why Don’t You Get Me?

Bit by Richard Tuttle

A piece of me, I always knew I was Red.     Bit by Richard Tuttle (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

Sometimes, you write a post and it’s all “Hooray” lot’s of likes and comments straight out of the publishing gate. Other times, you write a post (these are the ones you are immensely proud of that you feel a bit like a parent sending your little one to their first day of school) and it’s that tumbleweed rolling down the hill!

So what gives?

Why don’t you get it? Why do I suddenly feel alone in the schoolyard clutching my satchel wondering if you don’t like me and if you’ll never like me?

The writing is the easy bit, the putting it out is  the hard bit. It all get’s mixed up and coalesces into something awful and grimy and messy.

I have a theory that all writers secretly believe their special. Special and different. I know that in my heart,  apart from all the bullshit about grammar, publishing and all that guff, I secretly feel that way too.

I think I fear finding out that I’m deluded and my secret and different specialness is just a dream that keeps me sane.

Here’s hoping I never wake up.

Foetal Writer – My list of baby steps.

fashion faux pas

This is my writing. (Photo credit: Judy **) But I’m working on it 🙂

It’s not all joy and expansive prose when you’re new at this writing schnizzle. Sometimes it just plain sucks. I’ve made a list of all the things I’m good at and all the things I’m struggling with. These are the things where I need to engage the force and shut up and just get on with it!

Good At:-

1. Procrastination. I’m sure that draw needs re-organising, the cat needs feeding and if really in a rut, I may even talk to the husband.

2. Using the words:- Turned, saw, look, looked, began, begin/s, started, while (and whilst, I like to mix things up y’know?), was, had, told, knew and heard.  – I opened Scrivener to see how many words I had in my search list and trust me, – this wasn’t all of them.

3. Editing, because I can’t get past Chapter twenty-two.

4. Fear of finishing (hmm linked to number three above) and the ensuing fear of failure to sell any books because I’ll have to talk to lots of people and be nice and let’s face it the reason I write is because I’m a bit of a depressed loner.

Baby Steps:-

1. Dialogue tags:- I forget the rules and no-one should use that many descriptions of the word said, often with an adverb. I counted seven in one particular piece of dialogue, they sounded like bad thespians rather than characters, she whispered quietly – err DOH!

2. Getting in and out of rooms. My characters seem to get stuck by some invisible force sometimes in doorways or in front of doors. It’s really difficult getting them in and out of blasted rooms.

3. Action:- Now this is the sticky bit. If an arrow pierces a shield the reader knows that it didn’t pierce the person in the next sentence because it’s in the shield. I do this a lot. I’ve taken to watching u-tube action sequences and listening to swordplay. I’m also learning a lot about archery so that I get it right. Especially, because you just know if you don’t know this stuff, someone is going to nicely point out you got it wrong, wrong, wrong….

4. Moving the story on, there’s a lot I need readers to know and whilst I am desperately trying to show not tell, I sometimes do a little too much back story… Mystery is my friend, readers are surprised not, Oh I knew that was going to happen five chapters ago. If they’re still there….

So these are my failures and my top faux pas. What did/do you struggle with?

Comments, as always, welcome.

THAT PHOTO. PRIVACY. CROSSING THE LINE IN BOSTON

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Sharing the unthinkable – credit: Wikipedia)

Some things horrify me.

I believe in freedom and I certainly believe in the right to a free press. We Brits, have had some issues in this regard over recent years, with law suits on how far the Press is allowed to go. Scandals such as “phone tapping” only really became scandals once we discovered they weren’t just doing it to the rich and famous. It turns out they were hacking into the parents of boys who were dying for their country in Iraq or Afganistan.

There’s a photo that came from Facebook,  I’m not sure if it’s real or a fake, but it’s spread like wildfire. It is not a nice photo and every person that forwards it on in emails and in attachments to text messages or even social media should take a moment to think about what they are doing.

THINK ABOUT HOW YOU WOULD FEEL IF YOU WERE THE PERSON ON THE CHAIR?

Oh, did you forget about them? The human being at the center of the story whilst you all gloat and pass it around saying have you seen this?

In an open office of around twenty, there were two of us that said “NO.”

“No, I don’t want to see that damn picture. Why would I want to see that?”

“No, I don’t want to see a human being broken and bleeding”

“No, I don’t get a kick out of another’s misery”

I feel saddened that human curiosity on the macabre is enough for us to lose our compassion and our dignity. So that people huddle around a phone or a screen saying things like “Have you seen this, it’s gross”.

These people weren’t children, or teenagers. So, you can’t blame the complete lack of discretion on naiveté or inexperience.

As much as I believe in the right to Freedom, I also believe in the right to privacy. So if you see or get forwarded a copy of that photo, just delete it. There are things that should stay private and this photo crosses that line.

As for Boston, I wish everyone peace and my thoughts are with the families and friends of those that lost their lives.

Comments, as always welcome.

Sit at your desk writing and all you’ve got is a book about a desk.

A game of squash

A game of squash, if this was a photo of me, I’d be on the floor, sweating and purple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A double yellow squash ball.

A double yellow squash ball. These are slow balls and we play with the blue……(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been killing myself, learning something new over the past few weeks. I have learned how to run around a squash court. I’ve learned that puce is the colour I turn just before I get to full purple and I’ve learned that a desk job and sedentary lifestyle is to blame for a complete inability to move with real pace and grace.

The day after the first match, my legs felt like someone had driven a steam roller over them and as I had fallen over trying to hit a couple of shots, I also had the bruises to show exactly which part of this frame, hit which part of the court when I went down. My legs now resemble a rainbow of yellow greens.

Laying in bed, nursing both bruises and dented pride, I got to thinking about how good I felt after the exercise and how competitive my nature truly is. I knew I was never going to win as my lovely husband used to play Squash for a county up North. Out on that court, I just didn’t care. For every four points in a row he got, I won one back and it was hard-earned, it was hard-won and I rejoiced inside.

My husbands not the type to let me win either and whilst the sensitive are thinking, “how mean!” He knows damn well, I’d hate it any other way.

So a sense of competition and running around doing something to stimulate oxygen to my brain has had an unexpected impact that I think was missing before.

I used to think the hard part was sitting down and writing and continuing to write until it’s finished. That is what everyone tells you isn’t it? A thousand blogs telling you to sit down and write until those digits bleed, until your sick of the sounds of the keys and the cold coffee your nursing.

I don’t think that’s a productive way to produce quality work. I think to write about what you know, if all you do is sit at a desk, well, that’s all you know. The pain and frustration of trying your very best and still sounding stilted, contrived and wondering why you’re not as creative as other people just sucks as a strategy.

You need to get out and smell the roses, do something that you enjoy and like doing. Meet some new people in real life. Do something that stimulates your emotions and your creativity is not going to be far behind.

Make the minutes you spend writing count, by filling the rest of your time with things that matter. I’m not giving you a license to procrastinate but sitting at a desk torturing yourself doesn’t help you achieve your goals. Living life in a full and authentic way is the best and most rewarding road to writing well..

The absolute best thing about doing this from a writing perspective, is a speech impediment I noticed that one of the receptionists had and an incident with a small child and their parent at a roller-disco they host in the sports hall. I’d never have the exact quirks or nuances of those situations – if I hadn’t been going to do something I enjoyed.

Live well, write well. In my eyes – they are intrinsically linked.

Comments, as always, – welcome.

First Draft – Scene.

Bear summarily dismisses the nurse and takes a seat at the head of the bed. The chair he pulls up is small for his frame and he shuffles to get comfortable. Keela, has marked out the head of the bed as Hawk territory and opens her beak and beats her wings as the hulk of his form disturbs her. There are deep grooves in the headboard from her formidable claws, laid down over the past five days.

“Don’t suppose asking you nicely to leave would have much effect?”

Keela squawks and the sound of the tightening claws in the already ruined headboard, grates in his ear.

Bear sighs, “Didn’t think so..”

He reaches out for Mordins hand, the boy lays motionless except for the gentle rising and falling of his chest, the only sign that life still lingers. The silent days since the event have seen most of the bruises and swelling go down, leaving a rainbow of yellow-green marks in their wake. He’ll have a small scar near his eye and Bear feels proud of his wifes handiwork. It could’ve been much worse, stitched badly and he might have lost the eye.

He squeezes the fingers and takes comfort in their warmth, waiting for movement, his eyes moisten and he chides himself for expecting. He blinks at the wetness, afraid to let a single drop fall in case he can’t stop. At his feet a book lies open on the page he stopped at last night. The spine proclaims in gold leaf “Hevensgate – a scholars musing”

“Mordin, can you hear me?” the silence echoes.

“I’ll read for you when I’m finished. You’ll have to wait for the great Master Zaphis Brigsaimum to impart his wisdom. As I need to tell you something and time is running out.” He shakes his head, “I’m not making much sense am I?”

He looks to the open window where the light in the sky is dying outside. The smell of lavender and herbs drifts up from his garden carried on soft warm breezes. Golds, reds and oranges illuminate the castle; a perfect sunset lighting the world.

He restarts hesitantly, “There’s so much more this” He stops and exhales, his voice raspy and broken.

“I’ve written you a letter and it explains everything. Easier written down and I was going to be a coward and just leave it at that.. I’ve sent it on to Gadrial at the Gypsy capital, the old bastard will know when it’s right to pass on.”

“I always wanted to tell you in my own words but the time never seemed right… This doesn’t change anything between us and I am proud both of the man you’ll become and the boy you are now.”

“You’re my son and you’ll always have my name. The name of Ranaya. Keep it safe and honour it. We are not the richest house, and we’re sure as fates – not the grandest, but there’s good men doing what’s right all the way back to the cataclysm and that has to count for something.”

Bear looks over, his eyes have been fixed on a small crack in the boards during his speech. The boy is pale and he keeps hoping for a flicker of an eyelid, some sign that he can hear what he’s saying and will remember.

He pulls the chair closer to the bed, leans in and unsettles the hawk, Keela squawks angrily.

“This is between me and the boy. Go sit on the nurses chair over there..”

Keela hops down from the headboard and waddled across to the vacated chair. Hopping, first on the seat and then perching on the back, trying to find the balance lest it tip.

He leans in close and begins to whisper. These are secrets he hasn’t spoken aloud in twelve years. He hopes Marianne will forgive him, he needs to tell the boy before death silences him and the Arbiter makes his judgement.

The Flower Market Tree is coming into bloom, the blue flowers exactly as they are in his vision, it won’t be long now. This is the fate he could not alter and he has loved and been loved, it has been a good life. He counts himself lucky that the only talent the Gods ever gave was knowing the time and place of his own death. He’ll go to greet them, safe in the knowledge that Mordin will live and thrive,  a perfect moment captured of the boy laughing as a grown man, a small babe in his arms. Bear hopes it is his grandchild, the second part of his gift.

Ten minutes pass, the only sound the soft whispering of a father to his son and when finished, Bear leans back on the chair.

“I pray to the Gods what I am about to do will save you from pain and shield your heart”

Bear gently turns the boy over and removes a small wooden pot and horsehair brush from his jerkin. He opens the nondescript wooden box and a brilliant blue flash drenched the room in light for just a moment. Keela chirrups in recognition of the light and as Bear paints on Mordins naked back in the silvery substance contained within his expression is unreadable.

“This could have bought your mother and I our very own Kingdom. Perhaps that’s what I should have done. Fates be damned I saved it.”

It takes a long time for him to finish, with long sweeping brush strokes and intricate detailed close work. As he lays each stroke down, the silver disappears into the skin. With the pot empty and no visible marks remaining on Mordin; he turns his son back over slowly and places a kiss on his forehead before picking the book up from the floor.

He begins to read aloud, “The debate about whether Hevensgate during the first age……” and continues until the oil lamps begin to fail.

THE BLOG

1000 Pennies for Your Thoughts - NARA - 534149

1000 Pennies for Your Thoughts – NARA – 534149 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s just words on a page. A short online record of thoughts, dreams, feelings or your favorite cupcake recipe. Whether you’re a serious blogger or just a casual online scribbler, it’s an oasis of privacy in the most public of mediums.

To share or not to share is often your question. Is the time I got caught sleep-walking naked in New York okay to lay down on paper? Or is it something more serious? A stigma or a social issue that haunts you and you feel no-one will ever understand? Do you lay it bare or keep it in? So many questions each time your digits hit the “qwerty”.

Should you show yourself à la open or honest or should you be represented via an electronic icon or meme… Say a pink typewriter? Can you have a public blog and a private persona so that you’re not sacked when you slag off your colleagues when they get on your nerves?

Then there’s the validation, when it goes well. People have read me and even better they have something to say about it. Oh Goody! And when it doesn’t “why does nobody like me?” , “What did I do?”, “Where did you all GO!” and “Why aren’t you all sat by your laptops waiting for my ramblings?”.

Whether you’re a journaller, a shutter-bug, a frustrated writer waiting for their big book deal (HELLO, HELLO, HELLO), a sometime chef or an enthusiastic amateur. It’s all here for you. An oasis for those thoughts, pictures, recipes, poems and life. What’s more, we’ll all be here, reading, nodding, loving, hating, ignoring, following, liking and commenting.

Welcome to the BLOG. Come on in, the waters lovely.

Finding a Niche – Writing to read not writing for readers.

Niche Syndrome

Niche Syndrome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I started writing again because no one was writing what I wanted to read. There are some amazing books that I really enjoyed but there were no books that really hit what I wanted and that’s why I picked up my creativity and got cracking again.

I was away for the holiday this weekend and I took my net-book and whilst thinking out some plotlines, I realised I was falling into a bit of a trap. The snare of thinking about the reader too much. I was trying to craft situations that I thought the readers would want to read and not remaining true to my original vision of the story.

It’s quite easy when you’re a newbie writer to do this because you are often second guessing what you think. Whilst it’s okay to think about plausibility and originality and to make sure your story is authentic, the minute you begin thinking about the end-user just take a moment.

Writing for other readers doesn’t work if it did then there would be a magic formula that all writers would follow that would result in endless bestsellers and residuals. Don’t believe the hype and all the books that promise just that.. Are savvy (if immoral) authors getting rich off your naïvety rather than any original novels they’ve written.

By thinking too long and hard about the reader and not the story, you’re sure to end up with a confused and stilted mess. The minute, I reset my expectations and began again, with what I wanted to read, the niche that no one else inhabits and the story that makes me light up in dark moments, my flow and my creativity raced back in.

Trust yourself and your story and your future readers will too.

So what do you think?

Comments, as always, welcome.

 

My Version of Equality.

Stikfas Yoga: Beta female practices the Cobra Pose

Stikfas Yoga: Beta female practices the Cobra Pose (Photo credit: the other Martin Taylor)

I’m a bit embarrassed and a little ashamed. You see, I quite enjoy being the Beta Female to an Alpha Male at home. There, I said it. Now before we all go off the rails about how it should be all equal and everything. I am not subjugated by my dearest or belittled or oppressed. I’m also completely sober and deadly serious about this.

Let me explain. I have a professional job which involves a plethora of strong actions and key decisions. I juggle, I strive and I bring home some reasonable bacon in my work-life and when I get home. I want exactly the opposite. Because having it all, simply means doing it all – if you let it.

There’s something comforting about letting someone else take the reins and give you the space to NOT decide  and make decisions  for a bit. This is my version of equality and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Now, I am not saying that my husband makes every decision but we came to an agreement a few years ago that he didn’t need to ask my opinion on absolutely everything.

It’s tiring when one partner becomes so passive that you end up thinking for them because it’s easier than constant discussion.

What do you want to eat this week?

Where shall we go this weekend?

What would you like?

What do you want?

Whilst it’s nice to be consulted about major life decisions, I don’t want to asked all the time. This for me is perfect equality. I trust him to make decisions for me because I know he always has “OUR” best interests at heart.

What does equality mean for you?

205 – FOLLOW ME EVERYTHING IS ALRIGHT….

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...

This is a “thought bubble”. It is an illustration depicting thought. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought about doing a blog post last week about this and then seven people decided to ditch me, so it became redundant and then I picked up another seven followers yesterday. Which is I think a record for me in a single day…

I hit 205 Followers yesterday. I know how many followers it says in the sidebar but that includes my twitter and Facebook friends too. So it’s baloney. But, my official stats are 205 as of five minutes ago. For all I know another seven people will decide that this isn’t hitting the spot for them,  hightail it away in the next twenty-four hours and I’ll be back under the 200 mark.

It’s not a mind-boggling number for most of you  – two hundred.. But for me it’s many, many more than I ever thought I’d get.  When I hit 100 I did a little dance and I’m just as thrilled now it’s the big 200, in fact I’m doing a samba now, which is making it hard to type.  I feel a little humbled by that number. We live in such an instant gratification world that to have connected and shared my thoughts with 200 people feels like a victory.

Yes , I know most of them probably followed me looking for a “Follow Back” and sometimes I do, after I’ve checked out their blog, read some of their posts and seen the heart of them beating. Sometimes, I don’t.

There’s some hardcore followers though, one’s who I still genuinely get thrilled about seeing their little faces or object or randomness in a square of happiness accompanying my posts as a like, then a heartfelt and genuinely thought-provoking comment on whatever I’ve chosen to ramble on about.

This all started as a blog about writing but that’s not how it is now, it’s my form of self-expression and it’s a bit random. Oh, I throw in the odd post about writing because it’s a big part of my life, but it’s not all “How to”.

So this post is my thanks to all those who clicked a follow and whether genuine or not, cheers for stopping by. I guess I’m not as alone as I thought.

There’s a  special mention though for the following (anyone not mentioned please don’t take offense, but I couldn’t stick 200 odd on here):-

http://charronschatter.com/

http://magoffleash.wordpress.com/

http://wideawakebutdreaming.wordpress.com/

http://thereclininggentleman.wordpress.com/

The above, you know who you are and you know what you did. THANK YOU.

Comments as always, welcome.

Three Reasons to Write

English: Celsius Fahrenheit convert scale Deut...

English: Celsius Fahrenheit convert scale Deutsch: Celsius Fahrenheit Umwanlungs-Skala (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was 78 Fahrenheit on this same day last year and the man on the radio, whilst I was driving to a client meeting, also informed me that the first day of spring was yesterday. Really? Have you seen the three inches of snow outside? Driving home through a blizzard I started thinking about the things that I could do over the weekend that didn’t involve leaving the house.

Yes, I am aware of the writing aspect (what a perfect opportunity to procrastinate). The Novel and I, are not speaking at the moment. It’s just a tiff, not a major falling out and after I’ve sulked for a bit, I am sure we’ll kiss and make up over Chapter 20.

However, I came up with a plan and to force myself back into my manuscript, I have come up with three things I’d rather write than do…

1. Clean out the Oven.  – It’s dirty and sometimes smoky, (yes, it really is that bad) but there’s nothing that could force me in there with the horrible cleaning stuff that I always think I’m going to suffocate after inhaling accidentally.

2. Skirting boards. – They haunt me from behind the sofa (couch),” I’m dirty” They say, ” I’m dusty”, and “just imagine how well you will sleep once you’ve moved all the furniture into the center of the room and then back again”. I’m not falling for it. Someone fetch me my outline, i feel a plot twist coming on.

3. The finances – Sifting through receipts working out all the stupid things I’ve bought that I can’t afford and the guilt that goes with it. Is that my notebook? Bring it here.

So whats enough to get you writing again?

Do E-READERS stifle sales?

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

Kudos, to a very intelligent commentator who left the following in another post of mine and got me thinking. First, please visit Frances blog as her title is very misleading and it’s an excellent blog.

http://wp.me/210UR

You came back! Welcome, now let’s see that comment…

“Kindles has this effect as well. Unlike a physical book one is less likely to strike up a conversation about a current read of another without a glimpse of the book cover.”

I got to thinking? I remember many conversations or Authors discovered by glancing at the dust-jackets of someone else’s book and seeing the reader so intent on the contents, that I absolutely had to check the author out.

I’ve also had many holiday conversations round the pool or on flights where the main topic of conversation is what I’m reading and what my social conversation partner is reading.

In fact, I have a little ritual before I go on holiday where I’ll stop in the bookshop in the departure lounge and buy five or six books that I’ve heard of or seen people reading.  With the rise of the e-reader (I love my kindle) will I now miss out on that? Will I be downloading them to my Kindle instead and will I now rely on the “Reviews” on Amazon to see whats hot and whats er, not?

“23% of Americans ages 16 and older read an e-book in the past year, up
from 16% the year before. The share who read a print book declined to
67%, from 72%”
Thanks to the Pew Internet Project – see the original doc.
 So print is in decline? I didn’t need the above to tell me that…. I see far fewer people reading in hard-copy but that’s great isn’t it? More opportunity for the self-published route…
Well, Yes and No. There’s too many posts to comment on the “Amazon” sales ranking stuff and the KDP Select debate runs on and on. I can’t help thinking that whilst the rise of e-readers is good, it has lost us the opportunity to market our work via the good old-fashioned see someone else reading route.
On a hard-copy book, Authors have their name and beautiful cover art as an instant advertisement. Whilst the old saying of never judge a book by a cover still rings true, at least when the cover was visible it caused interest and got your name out there. How many times have you asked someone what they’re reading on a tablet?
So, whilst the rise of the e-reader and no-one being able to see what your reading may have helped the erotica market by getting rid of the embarrassment, does it stifle an area of Sales for the rest of us?
Have you ever picked up a book abandoned by someone and read it cover to cover,  discovering a new author?  Once discovered, you can’t help buy just about everything they’ve ever written.  Personally, I’ve done this six or seven times finding one of my favorite authors Robin Hobb via this route.
If I picked up a tablet abandoned by someone I am more likely to hand it to lost and found than read anything on it and I still don’t understand how the lending stuff works, which is the somewhat confusing attempt by Amazon to fix this.
So what do you think?

Is technology, the death of original thought?

Coffee cup

Coffee cup (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Whilst everyone else is looking for some Irish roots to drag out into the sunlight, I’d like to talk about something completely different. I was in Costa (a coffee-house) with my husband at lunchtime today and I noticed that everyone was doing something… Most, were doing it on laptops, smartphones and tablets.

There were still the Sunday Paper readers, myself and the husband included. I noticed that all the other readers had smartphones within arms reach and the occasional “bzz bzz” would stop them reading and look at the screen instead.

Are we now all so connected (yet distant) that we are incapable of doing something as simple as having a cup of coffee with a friend or lover without having some form of communication or web connected device within a hairs breadth?

“I am also aware of the irony of writing this on a Wi-Fi connected Netbook from my writing couch.”

As if to illustrate my point even further, the group next to us were talking about their favorite hotels on holiday. I was very discouraged to hear that one of their criteria was the strength and quality of the Wi-Fi. I could understand if they had talked about business hotels but holiday destinations? I can think of nothing worse.

Technology enables us to connect in many ways and has been a positive influence on our lives, making things easier and faster. Technology can make you far more productive. It can also suck the time out of your day like a depressurization at 37,000 feet

I am as guilty as the next person of spending far more time on social media networks and playing stupid games than actually writing ( I also read today that procrastination is good for you. Yay!). But my coffee shop outing really got me thinking about how we receive our news and information and just how much gets re-packaged a thousand times, getting further and further away from someone’s original thought.

Are we all so plugged into content that we’ve stopped creating our own? Do we now rely so heavily on the news feed that we’ve stopped being able to work things out for ourselves and think things through? Do we now just ask Google?

What do you think?

Badly Messed? or Freshly Pressed?

WordPress

WordPress (Photo credit: Adriano Gasparri)

When I started this Blog, I remember first reading the Freshly Pressed posts with a sense of awe and wonder. It was like someone had taken the very best writing on any given subject, all fresh, shiny, different, wonderful and so original and FUNNY and smashed it into a smorgasboard of loveliness.

Today, I read Freshly Pressed  (as I usually do when I log into WordPress) and found myself drifting….. Two paragraphs down, in four out of the top six posts, and I’ve  found my attention stuttering and my eyes wandering away like nomads. It’s been the same for the last week or so.

So is it the length?

The average length of a post on FP is a minimum of a 1000 words now. Most are 1500. Were they this long before, I don’t remember there being so many words, all blurring into each other?

Now before the hatemail starts arriving in the comments section below, I am not saying the posts are badly written. They’re not! They are extremely well-written, perfect grammar, spelling and punctuation in every one. They are also just a touch self-conscious. A little too worthy perhaps to fully hold my attention.

I hate to say it…. But they bore me. Whereas I used to read every single post up there and cry, laugh and wonder… Now it’s more MEH? than amazing.

So is it the format that’s not working for me? I notice there is poetry and fiction featured quite heavily now. Part of me, wants to say “Yes, finally some representation for all us creative types!” The other part is running screaming from the laptop. Why? Because “FP” used to represent the best writing from a bunch of plucky amateurs who were giving fresh thought and ideas on ordinary and not so ordinary daily life or writing about issues that they felt affected them. Now it’s all poetry, worthy literaryness or long university style essays on topics. I know literaryness is not a real word (which is probably why I’ll never be freshly pressed)….

And before I would have said that it bothered me, now, getting Freshly Pressed…. Meh!

So is it just me? What do you think about FP?

How your most Epic Fail, can turn into a Legendary Win.

I love excellence and success, there is nothing that gets me revved up, like an appreciation of something done beautifully well. It’s so sexy to see someone winning, at the top of their field or profession. To read or see something that makes you catch your breath. I may need to go take a cold shower just thinking about it…

Walt Disney gets blamed for a lot of things (personally, I do not feel he’s responsible for a whole generation of women’s unrealistic expectations of men) and he also came up with a quote that I use as my mantra:-

Good advice, Yes?

Failure, then? Where this post started, not so hot, that. No cold water needed and I get chills just thinking about the crushing soul-destroying impact that trying and failing can cause.

So here’s the thing,  take anyone you ever meet in any field who is truly awesome or excellent. Behind that veneer of professionalism is someone who has cocked up/failed/struck out on many, many, many occasions. They are riding the crest of the wave now, but if you could see the sleepless nights, the hours and the effort (I’m discounting blind luck here and I’ll get to that) you wouldn’t be surprised by their success. In fact you’d probably congratulate them for not quitting and doing something else.

So how are they so different from you and I? The simple truth is they are not, the key difference is how they treat that failure..

For you and I, failure is a shattering total defeat which gives that shitty little inner voice a chance to tell us how absolutely awful we are and how we are doing a really terrible job at life. For them, life just gave them an opportunity to get rid of the stuff that blows. They use their failures as opportunities to learn something about what works.

Failure is not just an option it is your only option for becoming successful.

What about those one hit wonders and the people who blind luck favors? I told you I’d get to them. How many lottery winners go bust or get divorced? How many instantly famous actors or singers descend into the mire of obscurity again through abusing themselves? – The reason behind a lot of these cases is that they have never failed. Failure gives you crucial tools in coping with stress and pressure. Work at it, refine it and you become far more aware of your own weaknesses and how to play to your strengths.

So, the next time you fail – Remember, for every truly excellent thing, there are a hundred more prototypes that didn’t make the grade, that didn’t succeed and frankly sucked! It’s the last version that makes it into the light,  after the failure is dissected and the weak spots erased. I feel sorry for the prototypes never getting their minute in the sun. Without them you’d never have won!

If you try something and mess it all to hell, remember life just gave you a lesson, not a kick in the face. Feedback is a gift and that’s what failure really is. A gift.

Now get out there and FAIL, FAIL, FAIL! It’s what you have to do before the winning starts.

My Urban Myth. The Naked Truth.

Meh.

Meh. (Photo credit: Patrick Haney)

You’ve heard it all before. My brothers cousins friend, knows a man who knows a man, who swears – Insert particularly gruesome hilarious story here…. Are there ever occasions that in these myths or allegorical tales or lessons,  there is some small shred of truth, a nugget of reality?

Yes there are. – Here’s my urban not so myth!

I used to work for an international airline with a very famous owner and a red uniform. I did this for the early part of my twenties and like any type of job, there were always the stories. Ghost stories that kept you awake on long night flights, crash tales that were complete baloney, usually involving some element of fate and the pranks and naughty stories that get more and more exaggerated.

Recently I was on the tube in London and two young women with their suitcases are discussing an airline urban myth, the one about the woman who slept-walked naked in a New York Hotel on Lexington Avenue on the 12th floor and is caught on security camera’s.

“Oh, I’ve heard that story before” – Air Hostess one said

“I am sure half these stories are made up” – Air Hostess Two said.

They were completely oblivious to the middle-aged woman sat next to them with her kindle upside down and a bright red face and whilst the security camera bit and the tape being handed to the Captain is false, the sleepwalker and the naked bit are most definitely true.

I remember getting off the flight and feeling dog tired after landing in Newark. The coach dropped us off and in NYC, we only got a single night layover. I got into my room, had a shower, wrapped myself in a towel and sat on the bed to watch some cable. The next thing I knew I was on the twelfth floor wearing nothing but a confused expression and minus the towel. I ended up finding a security guard who lent me his jacket so I could go down to reception and  get a new key card. I told a friend of mine what had happened on the flight back to Heathrow the next day and the story has gone into legend, with multiple versions and some quite intriguing embellishments.

So next time you hear, one of those, y’know stories…. Don’t automatically write it off…..

Why have I never heard of half of the people who give writing advice?

Advice

Advice (Photo credit: mpclemens)

I always used to imagine that writing (if you do it properly) is a free and easy creative rapture, where I sit and the words effortlessly flow from every pore like some sort of wordsmith disease. I have discovered Dear Reader that anything worth doing is difficult. Now, I’m not talking brain surgery here, I am talking about effort….

I’ve also discovered a direct correlation between how difficult it is and how likely I am to complete it. Is half of this about showing up and writing stuff down? Stuff that isn’t just about how hard it is to write stuff. I’ve tried that tactic recently and I have managed to complete 3/4 of my novel.  It’s still not finished and nowhere near a publishable or ship-able format but it is 3/4 done and I’m patting myself on the back for that.

It also resulted in a six month gap in my blog writing. I love blogging due to instant gratification, I press the little publish button and voilà someone is potentially going to skim read the first few lines.  However, I have noticed how much writing blogs  and a lot of the advice being extolled,  is from people who have no more right to give advice than I do…

Have they written a bestseller, maybe but not one that I’ve ever read….

So is that what happens when your novels don’t make it? Do you just write about writing instead…..

Your thoughts are welcome friends…

P.S If you fancy a very commercial laugh. Try #danceponydance

P.S.S Do not drink any kind of liquid whilst doing this.

P.S.S.S The Findus one is genius! For all my American friends – Google recent press in the UK regarding Findus after watching. It will make perfect sense.

The GAP – Are you playing at this?

Mind_The_Gap
Mind The Gap!

Mind The Gap! (Photo credit: BuhSnarf)

It’s been a while… Sigh.

In fact it’s been about six months or is it more? I forget, even though this blog calls to me at the strangest moments to pick up my little netbook and jot a few thoughts down. I’d reached the saturation point I think, before.

Before, I decided that everyone has done it better and more succinctly elsewhere. Other writers with words more clever and funnier than mine. What do I have to offer except repackaged duller versions of other writers words.

And yet, it still calls to me. This little spot, my unadulterated stream of consciousness. I still think in the middle of the night of the small things I could say in my way. I’d hoped for further forward and feeling brighter and yet there it is in the stats, a big fat huge six month gap and I can’t take it back.

But pausing doesn’t have to mean failing and my words are here on the page.. I am going on. It’s just a little gap….

I hope you will welcome me back and now that I think about it – I never really left. I was just waiting for a space to slide myself into.

A gap.

Hello! I’ve missed you all so much.

Scenes from My Novel and some stuff from my life.

The book gets written, scene by scene and moment by moment. I’ve taken to getting up early and really working at it. I don’t edit as I go any more. Getting the first draft out is more important. I’ll worry about the spelling and the grammar later. I’m a plotter too. Through and through.

The scene below is inconsequential really except for an exchange with Gadrial, the Gypsy who’s about to sneak up on our poor bard below and scare the living daylights out of him. Kenrati, is a difficult character to write as I don’t like him. He whines and he’s a coward. But I do understand him, he’s arrogant and self obsessed and difficult. People don’t listen to him because he bores them. His heart is empty. It makes him a pretty rubbish bard but actually a really interesting character to write.

I guess not all characters are heroic types. You have to have some balance, the world is full of a myriad of different souls and who would believe if they were all the same?

So here’s a scene, we’re at chapter 12 here I think. As always it’s a first draft.

Campfires and hot salty broth have caused Kenrati’s delicate disposition to want to rid himself of the food in the most expedient way. He’s wandered some way from the camp not wanting the others to hear the noises his arse is sure to be making, a dead weight laying on his stomach.

He makes his way through the trees. Damn gypsy talking about the world like he owned it. Kenrati is not a warrior or a scholar but he knows the teachings of the Chantry and he’s studied in the old archives with the original scripts from just a thousand years after the cataclism. Who did that old man think he was. Everyone knew the gypsies were not to be trusted. Possessed by Demons half of them, probably. They wouldn’t submit to giving up their children if they had talent like all the others. He is unsure why the Chantry tolerates it. Something about laws made when the Elanati had assisted in a war some thousands of years ago. They were left to manage their own when it came to the talents.

The world is changing, he smiles to himself and wonders how long before the Chantry manages to overturn the old laws. It’s said that the Gypsies are spreading some sort of plague because of their contact with demons as the talented have no watchers. He stubs a toe on a branch and curses under his breath. He giggles, now the language he just used wasn’t exactly fit for the Chantry either. He looks up between the branches of the trees’ in the clearing and looks for the constellations he learnt at Black Rock. Master Briggs, had hit their hands with a birch cane if they’d got even one stars name wrong. His memory hadn’t made him popular with the masters or the other students. He’d been hit with that birch cane across his hands and back a few times too, even though he’d never got a single test wrong. Something about teaching him humility. He’d never really been sure why those monks had hit him. Whatever they’d been trying to teach, he could never remember. He shivered lightly. He’d been eight when his parents had left him there. They’d thought him possessed by a Demon, his memory was so good he could remember everything he read and anything that was said with perfect clarity. It was the headaches that made them fearful and then the terrible fits.

He hadn’t been a popular child, he’d been fat and preferred the books in his father’s library, to playing with the other children.

For fates sake, the Easenters may use slaves but at least they gave their children up. Make sure the world remained safe from the underworld. His thoughts have taken him a little further than he’d like but there was nothing for it. He unlaced his trousers pulling at the string fastening, once loose he pushed the soft moleskin fabric down over his thighs and as he crouched he felt his bowels loosen, not a moment too soon, he thought.

Three things that make Characters POP!

I have been writing furiously for the last few weeks and have neglected my blog somewhat, so apologies for that. I had some serious planning and structuring to do around the novel, which has become a trilogy….

One of the hardest things to get right for us writerers in this little pen monkeys humble opinion is Character.

So here are my three top tips to make your character pop.
1. Characters show themselves in many ways, most of them are not just about what they say or what their eyes and face are doing. There are thousand different little ques that people give off, these are non verbal and not centred around just the eyes. Try livening up your character by talking about areas other than the peepers. Notice how that makes the character pop a little more on the page? As a novice writer it is sometimes tempting to write about our darlings like walking eye sticks. Stay away from this approach unless you’re writing sci-fi.

2. It is not always what they say but also what they leave out. Whilst you’ve heard the words “Show” don’t “tell” since you have been able to pick up a pen. This also applies to not telling. How much do you hate it when an author info dumps in dialogue. Keep it short, keep it snappy and keep it real. This is a person talking not a plot device!

3. Tension reveals character. Know you characters really well. If you are a writerer of a novel. Character sheets are a god-send. It’s not so much about stifling your creativity more about really knowing who you are writing about. The better and more worked out their wants and needs, the easier it is for your character to tell you something about themselves. It is also easier for them to stay in character and lets you get on with the exciting task of developing that tension.

So that’s it from me and thanks for listening.

Comments as always welcome!

FROM THE BLOGGING COUCH IN A GALAXY NOT SO FAR AWAY!

I’ve finally embraced the wordWriter” both as a noun and as a verb. I am a Writer and I write a blog. It makes me feel so happy to say it aloud that I want to run round the house shouting, with my jumper over my head in a weird scribbler goal celebration. My excitement about the future and the put-words-on-paper thing is such that I could explode at any second into a kaleidoscope of multi-coloured stars!

Stand back readers – she’s gonna blow!

When it comes to my dreams, I have spent so long procrastinating and coming up with unbelievably complex excuses. I don’t have enough time, I don’t have enough energy, I don’t have anywhere to write, I don’t have enough talent (still not sure but working on it), The stars are not in the right alignment and my favourite – I am going to write just after I have done x or at the beginning of whichever month, week, minute, moment I wasn’t in.

3D panoramic view of Mount Everest. Picture ma...

3D panoramic view of Mount Everest. Picture made using SRTM data, freely provided by NASA. Do you feel sick yet? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blogging in particular has passed that little hurdle as if it were no more than an inconvenient speed bump. It has robbed me of the excuses because with the rather clever smartphones and the WordPress app, I am pretty sure I could do this stuff from the summit of Everest. I can write everywhere!

I’ve felt the force of READERS through WordPress. Here comes my little hover over the publish button and voilà: comments, likes and feedback. What other medium could you get that from? It’s been a little under three months now and this has single-handedly kept me on-track with my off blog writing goals.

Readers, when it comes to saying what I want on my blog, I am not someone you should put on a pedestal, I’ll only disappoint you. Sticking me in a room with a big red button saying “don’t push” would not be the smartest idea.

I will continue to write what I want to write, sometimes there will be humour, sometimes I will think there is humour and get it wrong. Sometimes people will actually laugh out loud and not just LOL. I hope sometimes to move you too, without sounding like a horrible human being, what’s it going to take to get you lot to start blubbing?

So, if you’ve stuck with me this far into the post, you are wondering when I’m going to get to the point, right? Well, you could be disappointed in this regard. Because that is the thing about blogging. I don’t have to have a point to post. I don’t have to be making a life-changing comment on the social inequalities on the Planet Zob or washing my guts out emotionally every five minutes.

I can simply talk about my day or post a poem, joke or quote. In short blogging can equal freedom if you let it.

I am still addicted to the world map on the stats page but I am getting a little more passive aggressive with the views bar. I only check it every five minutes hour now.

So i don’t have a point. I am a Writer and I write a blog. (Both a noun and a verb)

Thanks for reading, comments as always, welcome.

WHY I WILL NEVER BE AN INDIE

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

I don’t like the title “Indie” and never have. I didn’t like it even before I started writing seriously again and when I hear the phrase my gut reaction is negative.

I tend to make assumptions of quality and content.  Completely unfounded and probably flawed but I still make them. I make a negative supposition of “coolness” too. I think that whatever the content, it will leave me cold, it will be too out there or pretentious.

Why would you classify yourself as an “Indie” Author? Why are you not just an Author? Let’s face it in today’s modern publishing world, even signed with an Agent and a publishing-house; you are going to do the majority of things that a self-published so-called “Indie” author has to do anyway.

Why would you label yourself with something that has little or no “brand equity”. Look you may have written the next seminal novel, with perfect grammar and spelling, a great plot and no major issues and you may know several excellent other Indie Authors and that’s all well and good.

Now imagine you are selling yourself as an “Indie” author. Does the customer take a risk on your book when they’ve read something else “Indie” and have received a poor quality product? What about paying it forward you ask? What about supporting other writers? You can still support them without having to form a special club about it.

That’s the reason I will call myself a writer and not an indie writer. I am not a fan of clubs or labels or tags of any sort. When it comes to my work – it stands alone. I don’t care if you are into supporting other Indies, if you want to support my work and review it that’s great but don’t just support me anyway. Don’t just put me on your bandwagon without reading the work first?

I get so annoyed with all the support Indie Author dribble. What is different about an Indie Author, why should I choose to support them? What is it about that “Name” that makes it worthwhile? Don’t they whine an awful lot and get into arguments with their readers when they leave less than five-star reviews?

I do support other writers who are struggling with their journey; whose work I read and respect but not because they are an Indie. I support what I like to read. I support a quality product.

So please get down off your soapbox about being an indie and tell me about your work, your story, your characters. As a reader I am not really all that interested in you. However, I am interested in your novel.

But beware if you make a big thing about being Indie –I may just go read something else.

Hatemail – Comments, are as always, welcome.

EDIT* – May help you to know that I will self-publish – I am just not going to talk about being self-published. Because it’s not a badge to wear, it’s just the process I will use to get my work out to the readers. (If they’ll have me.)

THE NAMING OF THINGS.

name
Charming My Name!

Charming My Name! (Photo credit: jpellgen)

What do you call a forty-year old Gypsy who doesn’t exist, how about an abdicated queen with a sweet tooth or an assassin who never kills anyone?

Don’t know? – That makes two of us… (If you do know, suggestions welcome in the comments section. Full credit will be given in the book.)

The stories themselves are not an issue. Plots, themes and concepts tend to present themselves daily (I’m not gloating). It’s harder to keep track of them than to come up with them. There is always the part remembered good idea as you fall off to sleep. The plausible bridge in how a character has developed comes as your wrestling with early morning traffic both hands occupied and your notebook nowhere in sight.  I often find it difficult to reach for them again, as they fade into the other mental detritus of a work day or get overwritten by a new dream before waking.

But oh, for a name……. Why is it not so simple? My WIP now consists of a novel (nameless, half the characters called person a, b, etc.), two short stories (not so nameless but the characters don’t like their monikers: x. y and z). I thought I had found the perfect name for the book the other day only to discover that Ray Bradbury had got there first. Damn, those iconic fantasy authors with their striking and memorable titles!

Perhaps it’s because I have always associated characteristics with names. In my head, a “Jane” or a “John” acts like personal experiences made flesh. Any other traits or emotional effects/defects seem out of character somehow. Like there is a frozen vision of Jane, residing in my brain and now all beings bearing that appellation have to fit with my mental image.

I read a funny review the other day, where the reader had loved the book but couldn’t give it five stars because one of the characters is Kevin, and they didn’t think it was a proper name for a medieval swords and sorcery fantasy… I wonder what the Author was thinking when picking that name? – Crap, I’ve used all the unpronounceable ones, sod it, let’s just call him Kev? I’m surprised he wasn’t a “Dave”, after all, everyone knows someone called Dave or so the story goes.

So what is it about names and titles that resonates so strongly. More importantly how do you name?… Is it a flash of inspiration the name appearing in your mind’s eye? Do they look like a “Insert Name” in your head?

Comments as always, welcome.

PERFECT MOMENTS

There are periods of your life, where the smiles come easier and a feeling of calm and wonder pervades. Do not let these moments go, hold on with both hands if necessary, because you are blessed. How much of life passes by in a blur of forgotten small stresses? The shoes you can’t find. The train or bus you miss. The child that will not get dressed and is late for school. Being passed over at work. There are a thousand tiny things that fill us with thoughts of our own powerlessness and inadequacy and yet…

There are also the small times that shine a light on all the goodness and the greatness. They rarely involve mountains of cash or trophies, but they make you feel like you are exactly where you should be. That it really is, a wonderful and interesting world. That you can meet your dreams if you just reach out open-handed.

I call these the “perfect moments” and they last a lifetime. My life is made up of these small wonders; the bits in between – often fuzzy and out of focus. There is often a graininess to other memories, almost as if they begin fading out even as we’re making and storing them. A perfect moment can be recalled in a heartbeat, its freshness, the smells and sounds, retained in perfect Technicolor detail. I like to think of it as life in HD.

Today’s moment was walking in the sunshine at a hot air balloon festival.  My husband reached out to take my hand and pull me just a little closer. It wasn’t a statement of undying love or an expensive piece of jewelry. There were no diamonds and rubies in tissue paper. But that moment was one of the most romantic of my life. Because he wanted me in his space, to touch me in front of a thousand other walking spectators and he wasn’t even thinking about it.

The Albuquerque, New Mexico International Ball...

The Albuquerque, New Mexico International Balloon fiesta. (October 2007) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It made me feel loved, wanted and content. I’ll cherish it and put it away in a box of memories reserved for the not so perfect times.

Comments as always, welcome.

AWARDS – CAN BE A BIT LIKE BUSSES

bus

                                        

I have been sadly behind in my acceptance of awards lately, so apologies. I am very nervous about these awards as there tends to be a divided opinion on their validity. A lot of people say they are no better than chain letters, however, I was happy to receive the awards but as usual I am not sticking to the rules!

I want the people who I award these to, to know that I really do rate their blogs and they’re nominated for their quality and content (and not just running out of other people to nominate). I am going to nominate one blog for each award! I will also not write the seven things about me but I will leave you with a thought for the day! For my nominee’s, if you want to stick to the original rules… (seven things people will find interesting or don’t know and seven nominees).

I will also thank the people who nominated me… (You are really very kind)

Sisterhood Award:

Thank you to Liza at http://mylifeisapictureshow.wordpress.com/ for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. In her own words – I am the leading character in this show….  She writes a great blog, please go see.

My nominee is – http://writerreaderbakerbride.wordpress.com/  – LittleTash, writes from the heart about writing, baking, weddings and other things. Go say Hi!

Reader Appreciation

Thank you to http://jenmonje.wordpress.com for nominating me for the Reader Appreciation Award. You really are very kind and I was in some great company for that award. Jemonje writes that her world is “Mostly words. And a world. My world.” – Go check her out.

My nominee is – http://tamaramorning.com – Tamara, writes about writing but often raises questions that I enjoy thinking about answering. I love Blogs that make me think and Tamara always does. Go see her!

Beautiful Blogger

Thank you to Daniela of the http://lanternpost2012.wordpress.com  for nominating me for The Beautiful Blogger award. What can I say about Daniela, mmm, nothing that hasn’t been said already, go check out her blog (It’s like the Oscars over there, she has so many awards and all deserved.)

My nominee is – http://karenrobiscoe.com at Charron’s Chatter. Her blog is a bit of everything from Limericks to “Paying it Forward” for some amazing charities that she posts about. I have often been surprised, delighted and amused when visiting. I have never been bored! GO SEE HER NOW!

Thought for the Day!

Why do we always blame the last drink of the evening for our hangovers, when it was just as likely the first?

ADDICTED TO BOOK REVIEWS ON AMAZON

fake-amazon-reviews
Critic Takes Over Our Universe

Critic Takes Over Our Universe (Photo credit: Edwin456)

Please don’t judge, it started as an amusing diversion from the blank page and has turned into a bit of a secret obsession (far worse than looking at videos of cute cats on the internet). I have found that the reviewers themselves tend to fall in distinct categories….. Let me know in the comments section if you can think of any that I missed.

1. A Page One-er.

This person obviously hasn’t read the book and is having a bad day. Usually has the words “I only read X amount” in it. Followed by “and I always finish books”. If you see this person has reviewed another book there will be the same sentence in that review as well. – Juries out on whether this person is physically able to finish any book.

2. The Family Member.

Genus a. Over-excitement

These reviews usually read like the Author has just discovered the cure for the ills of Mankind. You will regret it if you don’t buy this book and you will be missing the literary event of the decade, no, the century! This is such an amazing book that it can cure all known diseases and bring about peace in the middle-east……

Genus b. Guilt

My Brother/Sister/Friend etc has spent nineteen years writing this book and I know how hard it has been for them. I’ve been with them since the start and you pesky readers should be honored to even view the dust jacket graphic of this book. This author will starve, starve I tell you, unless you download this RIGHT NOW!

Genus b. Threatening

This is an excellent book and I happen to know the author. In fact they are a member of my family. I feel very strongly about family. Did I mention that just like the gangsters in this thriller I am Sicilian? Well, you know how we feel about family.

Genus c. Denial

Now, I don’t personally know the author but this was a really exceptional read…. (Why on earth would you say in a review that you don’t know the author unless a friend or family member has told you that you are not allowed to know them for the purposes of the review. What reason would you have for personally knowing the author?)

3. The Literary Critic

This person is a wannabe author/editor and will take great pains to explain just why the dramatic arc did not obey any of the rules of (insert principle of well-known “write a book” author). We are unsure whether this person is irreparably filled with hatred and self-loathing but we think it might have something to do with the manuscript for their first novel which they have never finished. There is also the Critic that has finished the manuscript and received countless rejections down the traditional publishing routes; who holds staunchly to the believe that self-publishing is “Vanity Press” and should be banned.

4. The Angry Man or Woman

This reviewer believes that the book is the sole reason for the continuing collapse of Western Civilisation as we know it. In fact the book is so bad it has just started a sequence of events that will eventually lead to Armageddon. Accompanied by statements of “If I could have left a review of less than one star, I would have.”

5. The Genre

This person for some reason will have completely ignored all the sign posts for what the book is about including the blurb which mentions ten times in ten different ways that the book is a thriller set in the fourteenth century. They will say things like I don’t like thrillers and take issue with the fourteenth century, informing you that this is definitely the worst century of this period and had the author chosen to write a romance about the fifteenth century all would have been well.

 6. The Genuine Reviewer

They read the book, they liked it or even didn’t like it but they tell you in plain and simple terms “why” on both counts. If you spot one of these, send them my way, they can have copies of my debut for free and they would be worth it.

So, which reviewer did I miss? As always comments welcome.

One Week Left – A new job and my constant battle with the sands of time.

Hello Peeps,

I know i’ve been distant lately and there is a good reason. I got offered a new job, one that comes with extra time for creativity and a nicer paycheck.

The last five weeks have been the notice period, one more left and time has become the most precious resource imaginable.

Yet, five working days and I’m there.

I hope to be a bit more active next week onwards. I’ve been editing – no time for creativity, late night finishes as I get ready for the next challenge.

 

Why it is not so hot to find out you’re a plotter 6,000 words from “The End”

Scrivener (software)

Scrivener (software) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Oh dear, TTWI has just gone and done it again. I was six thousand words give or take some dialogue away from writing those two little words  “the end”. When my inner editor thought it would be a great idea, no, the best idea ever to have a look at the structure. Maybe even do some cork-boarding on Scrivener.

 

This was not a good idea, in fact in the history of bright ideas I’ve had recently this is in the bottom two.

 

I’ve just cut my darling to shreds, so we’ve gone from 73,456 words to 32,245 words in my still unfinished novel. It gets worse. I have to do some research and some plotting as well. The story in its original form wasn’t working, happy coincidences abounded and I hate these in other work. Person A just happens to be in the right place at the right time to intersect with Person B y’know the sort of stuff. My geography was all over the place and even worse people’s names were changing? How did I manage that?

 

So the current state of play is that I have a still unfinished novel…..

 

The upside to this is that the novel is one I’m happy with and I guess being happy and content with the 32,000 words I’ve got is better than having a steaming pile of finished.

 

There’s some real work to do. As easy as it would be to throw the net-book in a drawer and cry myself to sleep, it’s not happening. I always knew this was gonna be hard. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done and that’s okay.

 

40,000 to go….

 

I’m doing it. I am not giving up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction, mine – From the book first draft.

The Queen fingers the fine brocade drapes hanging from the windows in her private reception room. Beautiful – if illegal, the embroidery created by slave children their fingers the only ones capable of creating such finery. The Chantry had a fit when they were first displayed. Of course, she said she’d found the fabric and felt that such suffering and sacrifice should be displayed, that not to comment on such awfulness would be a betrayal of the tiny hands that made it. A reminder that suffering was taking place.

The reception room is beautiful and decadent. The finest Cherrywoods, Ashes and Elms make every stick of furniture. Everything adorned with ivory inlays and great clawed carved feet touching the boards. Her fathers house shield is above the fireplace, a castle and a great horned stag stands at the top of a hill. In the old tongue, a motto “Strong in Faith and War” curls on a golden scroll at the bottom.

Her quarters are seperate to the Kings, a necessity it was said as she was such a light sleeper and the King often worked late. His quarters just down the hall should she wish to join him which is seldom these days. The reception room was added so she can work on all her many charitable chantry projects without interruption. He still loved her the idiot. How easy these fragile men are to manipulate.

The Queen sighs and seats herself at the central desk. Her willful son has gone into the City with the Royal Guard, the Prince will have his way. He is singular in his purpose and she is proud of his strength and lack of mercy. He will need to be strong for the journey ahead.

A small cough catches her attention and without raising her head,

“So, spectre what have you found out?” She shuffles through some of the parchments, she does not need to look up to see the grey hooded man standing in front of her. It is not an appointed time for a visit.

“The hermit wants to bring the plans forward Mistress, the King still lives. The hermit has given his word. It is time for you to keep yours. If you still wish the crown”

“I asked you a question” Her face is tight,

“Very well, your Son killed the beggar and then beat the boy half to death. Houses Passery, Clando, Jiant, and Fontain are all involved as witnesses and they all beat the boy.”

She rubs at her temple, she suspected as much Varkand had been difficult and sullen. “Thank you Spectre, this information is most useful.” Her face composed, she pauses stroking a gold letter opener. She cuts her finger and the coppery taste as she licks the wound thrills her. “Have you passed on this information to the Hermit?”

“No Queen, This information came to me but an hour ago. I have yet to report back.”

“So my problem remains. How am I to kill a well guarded King with a Physicka such as Lord Ranaya.”

The man shrugs, “That is not the Orders problem, mistress. You must find a way to ease him off the throne and into the beyond. The Hermit is not known for his patience and could become fractious if left too long.”

The Queen rises from the table and walks slowly towards the hooded figure. Grasping the hood in both hands she throws it back, the handsome man grins broadly. He places his hands at her waist and pulls her close before nuzzling into her neck.

“Is the door locked?” she asks.

“No” he replies, roughly lifting her from her feet and backing her towards the desk. He kisses her tenderly and begins to kneel as his kisses lead past the top of the bodice and down towards her belly. These dalliances have been fun, she’s enjoyed the Spectre these past months.

“Ohh yes, that’s so nice.” She croons, the letter opener concealed in her sleeve and as he lowers his head and begins to lift her skirts, it slithers into her hand. There have been so many assassination attempts, her fighting off an attacker will make calling for martial law when the King is dead far easier. Witnesses are for fools.

She grips the letter opener and raises her arm, the Spectre busy with her skirts, there is an opening at the shoulder on his leather breastplate under the soft grey fabric of the robe. She tenses the muscles in her arms and brings the letter opener down. He is ready for her, a dagger is in his hand and she topples backwards over the desk.

Jumping to her feet, her stance accomplished from years of sword training as a child in her fathers yard. The Spectre looks at his dagger, it glints dangerously and is twice the size of the gold letter opener held tightly in her fist.

“Did you think me so stupid? That dress is coming off and I’ll be getting what I’m due. I always thought your pleasure sounded false. I prefer my women quiet and subservient. Silent and dead should be jus’ fine.”