Monday, 28 March 2016

So what's it called?

All systems go on the 'book' but there's still a little blip.

The 'book' doesn't have a title. Now I don't know how much of a problem this is at this stage but someone asked me what it was called and I had to confess that there was no title yet.

So at what point does a 'book' get a title? How do you even know what it should be called? As a novice at these things I don't know how the title happens. Do most writers know at the start what their book will be called?

Now I refuse to let this blip derail me so I'm about to start the writing process and crack on. But it would be nice to know what this 'book' is called ...

Now the next two challenges are to stop putting quotation marks around the word 'book' and to finally say 'I'm a writer' out loud rather than in my head.  

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The Runaway Girl by Emily Organ

Mediaeval London, a city filled with squalor, sadness and danger. One girl is dead, another running for her life and a third vanished. No one seems bothered about what happened to them until Alice Wescott gets involved.

Emily Organ creates a gripping thriller set against a backdrop of fears about plague, women in fear of their fate being decided by men and a menacing figure stealing girls from under their friends and families noses. I was pulled straight into the story with the escape of a terrified girl being chased by faceless men, in fear of her life. The pace rarely drops and I found The Runaway Girl to be a real page turner. There were so many cliff hanger moments that it almost became impossible to put it down!

I loved the characters - Alice, the strong, feisty protagonist; Elizabeth, stronger than she imagined yet vulnerable too; Millicent, a cross between a witch and a midwife (she was my favourite character).

There are parallels between the abduction of girls in this novel and the trafficking of women in present times but I enjoyed the story as a piece of historical fiction. Details such as the use of a clay cover to keep embers burning in a fire all night helped to make the world of Alice and Elizabeth come to life. The descriptions of costume and setting added to the richness of the story. I found myself getting lost in the mediaeval world Emily conjured up on every page.

The ending left the possibility of a sequel and I for one would be thrilled to read more about the lives of these fascinating women. As it is I'll have to settle for reading some more of Emily's writing until I can immerse myself in her wonderful take on mediaeval London.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Word of the Week - Ready

For the past few weeks - or is it months? - I've been planning a 'book' that I hope to write. I've plotted what happens. I've fleshed out my characters. I've broken the story down into scenes. Everything that I could have done, is done. There's no planning left to do.

So I'm now ready. The time has come to write the thing. No more prevaricating, no more faffing around. The writing has to be done. It's a scary time yet also an exciting time. I have a fully formed story in my head and now the time to get that story out has arrived. I'm scared that I'll do what I usually do - write 10,000 words and dry up. That once again everything will grind to a halt. This is normal or so I've been told. This is comforting to a degree. However I have to go through it all for myself and that can be scary.

But I am ready and I've felt ready all week. So next week I start writing for real. I start putting all my planning to the test and see if I've really got it in me to be a writer.

I'm hoping that I have. 


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Wibble Wobble!

So that time is approaching. The moment I'm dreading. The moment it all becomes too real.

I'm going to have to start writing the 'book' soon.

I'm about one planning session away from being ready. I know what will happen and in what order. I know my characters pretty well - they are bound to surprise me at some point. I've plotted out the 'book' so I know I can dive in and write any scene at any stage - to stop me losing focus and keep everything fresh.

So why am I wobbling? I've done everything I can to make this happen. I'm on top of it and ready. Yet I'm doing the serious wobbly dance - just be glad you can't see me!

It's the old self esteem thing again. My doubts have taken on gigantic proportions, in fact I'm starting to think I need to look out the old knight in shining armour costume and go all Beowulf on them.

I've written here many times about how I struggle to think of myself as a writer. I think that's where the wobbles come from. My self doubt. I know what you're all thinking - here she goes again! But I'm not just looking for sympathy, for hand holding or an ego boost. I'm slowly coming round to thinking that maybe I can do this writing thing.

Wobble, wobble! What if when it comes down to it I can't do it? What if all this planning is for nothing? What if I get as far as 10,000 words and the thing runs out of steam like all my other attempts?

So here I sit, wobbling, with a notebook full of plans. Here's hoping I can pull myself together and get it sorted before I start the actual task of writing.

Just call me The Jelly Writer... wobble, wobble!

A Poem For Aria

Aria tugs at Mummy's hand,
'Look at the pretty fireworks!'
Mum looks up to the starry sky,
'They're stars, Aria, not fireworks' she says.

Aria gazes into the inky void.
The stars twinkle, sparkle, glitter above.
Gazing back towards the beginning of things,
When fireworks blazed across the universe.

Swirling balls of fire speed across the universe,
Across the formless nothingness of space.
They collide, coalesce and reform,
A vast celestial firework display.

Aria stares at the beautiful, sparkly stars,
Too young to understand the cosmic past.
She wonders, she sees the pretty fireworks,
Glittering against the blackness of space.

My hope for Aria is that she keeps gazing at the stars,
Keeps seeing the beauty in the night sky.
That as she grows that childlike wonder and joy
Fires her imagination like a display of starry fireworks.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Prose For Thought

I haven't got anything special to share this week so I thought I'd share something that I wrote while sitting at the gym. I'm not sure why I wrote it or what it's trying to be but here it is.

Flit lived, if it could be called living, in a tiny space behind a cupboard. The cupboard was in the kitchen, between the sink and an old wooded table. It was a small cupboard, pulled away from the wall to allow space for a sacking mattress and a single flour sack for a blanket. The kitchen was at the back of a large and prosperous convent somewhere in Oxfordshire. Flit had never been sure of the name of either the convent or the small village he caught glimpses of when he was sent on an errand  in the kitchen garden. He knew there was no point asking anyone about the village; such things were forbidden and would only get him a clip around the head. And he'd had enough of those in his time to know that if he could avoid them he should. Each night Flit crawled between the cupboard and the wall, pulled his flour sack from under the mattress, shook the mattress as best he could and tried to make it as comfortable as he could. Lying on the itchy straw he soon fell into an exhausted sleep, often without pulling the flour sack blanket over him. He slept deeply, hard and mostly dreamless. When he did dream it was usually about Lift.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

What I'm Writing

Things I've learned by planning my 'book'
I'm nearly at the point where I need to start doing the actual writing of the 'book' I've been planning over the past few weeks. So I thought I'd take a moment to think about what I've learned by planning an extended piece of writing.
I've always been a pantser, just going with the flow and seeing what appears when I write. This is huge fun as I sometimes get taken aback with the path that I take, the stories that pop out. I guess what I do is write a lot of flash fiction. That's a phrase I heard for the first time recently and I rather like it, certainly sums up what I do!
The planning process has been an eye opener for me. I have really appreciated getting a real sense of where the story is going, where things worked and where they didn't. I also loved getting to know my characters, they have become real people to me in a way that previous characters never did. I can really feel how they will react to all I'm planning on throwing at them in the next few weeks!
I have started planning out what happens in each scene I have to write. I can't remember where I heard about doing this but it's such a revelation! I can write any scene I fancy, in any order and because I know how it will all hang together then things will come together (with some editing!). All this is probably the way most writers work but as a fledgling writer I'm just finding out how best to work for me.     
All this makes me feel more like a 'real' writer. I still can't bring myself to call myself a writer but the day is approaching when I will! So a little more planning and then it's time to start my characters off on their journey... 

Friday, 11 March 2016

Word of the Week - Writer

Well, that was one heck of a week!

I've spent a lot of time recently planning a 'book' - I've already mentioned my fear of the 'N' word. However this week I've been pondering what it means to be a writer.

It's a bit scary for me to use this word in conjunction with myself. Somehow a writer is a special sort of  person, someone who works at the craft of writing, someone who spins tales with words. I'm not sure that I see myself as that sort of person, yet there are so many people telling me that I am a writer that this week I did something really brave and a bit scary.

I told two people at the gym that I was writing a book! I just opened my mouth and said that's what I was doing. And neither of them laughed! In fact one of them said they wondered when I'd get round to writing a book as they knew how much I read so it made sense to write one!

So does this make me a writer? I guess the short answer is it must do. After all, I'm writing something, aren't I? I'm still not sure that deep down in my heart I think of myself a as writer yet but maybe once I really get stuck into writing this 'book' I will. One day I'll just casually say 'Me? Oh. I'm a writer' and that will make it so.      

The Prompt - Confusion

'I'm sorry for the confusion, Mr Robinson. I can't imagine how such a thing happened. We pride ourselves on exemplary customer service at Hilton Towers.'
The manager blustered and puffed through a lengthy apology and explanation but Ben had long since tuned him out.

Far from being the usual boring business week in a dull corporate hotel, this had been one of the most thrilling weeks of his life. All because of a muddled booking, a hilarious case of mistaken identity and a stunningly beautiful blonde.

Ben would dine out on this story for many months to come. His mates at the Council Planning Office would never believe what he'd been up to while they'd been stuck in strategy meetings, doodling on corporate logoed pads and trying to stay awake in airless conference rooms.

Things like this never happened to blokes like Ben...

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

What I'm Writing - Plans are afoot...

I've been busy planning a story that I'm going to write. The subject was suggested by Maddy and comes out of a poem I wrote about a painted on smile. As I thought about what Maddy had said about there being a story behind the poem I realised that I could flesh out the character and delve into her story. And guess what? I could and I did!

For the first time since college I sat down and went through a thorough planning process. I'm a seat of the pants writer, boot up the laptop and see what pours out. This works for me with poems and short pieces of fiction on the blog but I soon realised that this wouldn't do for a longer piece of fiction. I'd soon lose the thread and start to waffle. Then I lose interest and the thing gets stuck on the hard drive with no end in sight. So I've done an extensive plan and am now padding out the character profiles ready to start writing.

I've also signed up to do Camp NaNoWriMo. I've never managed to succeed in November with NaNo but this time round you set your own word count - I've chosen 25,000 - and I hope this will get the story off to a flying start.

I'm also conscious that I've avoided the N word - no, not that one! - I can't seem to call this story a novel. Writing a novel is something other people do, people who are 'real' writers. I'm trying very hard to consider myself a 'real' writer - after all I write so I'm a writer, yes? So progress is slowly being made and I'm feeling more positive than I have for a long time. Let's hope it lasts, eh?

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The Prompt - Silver

Isolated even when among others
Standing tall and stately,
Yielding in the breeze.
The silver birch is prince of trees.

The ghostly silhouette
Straight and fragile in the copse.
Untouchable in its solitary stance.
The silver birch is prince of trees.

Unapproachable and remote
It stands alone and aloof.
Not a trees that invites hugging.
The silver birch is prince of trees.

In autumn it sheds delicate leaves,
In winter clothed in ice white bark,
In spring the freshest green cloaks its branches.
The silver birch is prince of trees.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

What I'm Writing - Patreon

This week I finally got round to setting up my Patreon page. I'm brimming over with enthusiasm due to all the planning I've been doing and it seemed like the perfect time to see if Patreon had anything to offer me.

It took me a while to get used to the setup and there were a few hiccups when I misunderstood what I had to do - step forward my tech wizard son! So now I have a page where people can pay me to produce content and where they can follow the progress of the novel I'm planning.

So far nothing to report. I'm not sure if it's possible to see how many 'looks' my page has had in the way I can on the blog so I'm not even sure if it's been noticed. Now I need to publicise the page and drive a bit of traffic to it - never my strongest suit but it has to be done.   I also need to produce some content for the page so that the potential patrons can see what I can do - might copy some of the things from this blog over to give a taste of my style.

Let's see if this Patreon idea works for writers in the way it seems to for gamers and visual artists.