Friday, 31 January 2014

January Photo Inspiration

This is, obviously, the first photo inspiration for 2014. What do you think? Do you like gems? Do you like purple? What do you associate with this colour? Crocuses? Velvet? Pick out a gem. Which will it be - the largest faceted one or the round cloudy one? What does this image inspire you to write?

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Happy New (Chinese) Year

Okay, this is as much as I can raise to such a celebration at the moment as it's a tad too early to crack open the bubbly but I wanted to join in with the fun. Although the Chinese New Year is officially tomorrow, 31st January, apparently the festival begins today so 'Happy new year'.

This is the year of the horse. My daughter comes under this Chinese Zodiac sign and it seems a good match for her.

"...energetic, bright and intelligent."

"...cheerful, popular, talented and enjoy entertaining. They are associated with success and cannot stand failure."

That last part is certainly true but we've found ways to cajole her out of a sulk (usually incorporating the term 'blinky trout-face' - you have to be there to appreciate the relevance). If you're interested in the Chinese Zodiac, the rest of my family incorporates a snake (that's me), a rat and a monkey.

Apparently a horse year will bring "health and prosperity" and is an excellent time to travel. That all sounds good to me.

Will you be celebrating the Chinese new year?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Tuesday Choice Words

One of the changes I have made (so far) in rewriting my novel for the 9-12 age group is to move the location of the attack on my protagonist. Originally, the attack took place in a deserted park which always felt slightly wrong. I think the problem was that I couldn't truly picture the park. In the latest draft, the attack has been moved to a derelict street where there is no apparent chance of help. I can see that street in my mind's eye. I can feel the roughness of the torn tarmac under my feet. I can hear the wind whistling through the smashed windows. It feels right.

The Other Side of the Story has an interesting article on the same topic of settings - How your setting can affect your characters - that is well worth a read. Have a look.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Ideas that stick around

I was recently watching a YouTube clip where Stephen King answered questions about his approach to writing. When questioned about the use of notebooks, he had this to say,

"People say do you keep a notebook? And the answer is I think a writer's notebook is the best way in the world to immortalise bad ideas. My idea about a good idea is one that sticks around and sticks around and sticks around. To me, it's like if you were to put breadcrumbs in a strainer and shake it, which is what the passage of time is for me. It's like shaking a strainer, all this stuff that's not very big and not very important just kind of dissolves and falls out. But the good stuff stays, you know the big pieces stay."

He then goes on to talk about how he had the idea for 'Under The Dome' when he was teaching high school in 1973 and how the idea was 'too big' for him and he was too young for it. He wrote about twenty five pages of the idea and put it away. We now know that the idea did indeed stick around and become a highly successful novel and TV series.

Personally, I love the idea of using notebooks, my journal, a note app on my mobile, and the occasional napkin to record ideas that come to me but I also understand what he means about ideas that 'stick around'.

The novel I'm working on, Haven Falling, is an idea that has stuck around. No matter how many diversions and distractions crop up, I always return to writing it. I have a multitude of notes, in all kind of formats, about the novel but a large part of the idea lives in my mind. In the same way that we don't have to recall the characteristics of our friends, the world of my novel exists as a richly recalled image.

So which side of this fence do you fall on? Notebook or mind palace or, like me, a combination of both?

You can find the full Stephen King interview here.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Tuesday Choice Words

It's a bitterly cold day here. After a muscle-numbing walk to the shops and back, I'm happy to cosy up at home with my keyboard and a cup of tea.

As both a writer and a reader of murder mysteries, I decided to sign up for the Crime Readers Association. Their website brings not only news of new crime fiction but also some wonderful advice from crime writers. The Question Authors Dread is a fascinating article on the CRA website from writer, Chris Simms.

The wonderful Stephen King talking about 'how he gets inspired'.
It's a little long (53 minutes) but worth the watch.

Monday, 20 January 2014

The nearest I'll come to making a new year's resolution in 2014

The intention of making new year's resolutions has always been to start anew but seeing as 2014 will be more of a continuation for me (working on my novel, writing more plays, losing more weight), I decided to make just one new effort.

I'm constantly reading (on my bedside cabinet at the moment are Titania Hardie's The Rose Labyrinth and the first Skulduggery Pleasant novel) but in 2014, I've decided that I'll step away from my usual genres and authors and support some of the writers that I follow, know and converse with. So my reading list for the first half of 2014 looks something like this:
  1. Ninety-Five Percent Human by Suzanna Williams: a young adult alien adventure inspired by the 'Welsh Roswell', an alleged UFO crash in the Berwyn Mountains in 1974.
  2. A is for Angelica by Iain Broome: his debut novel, "Gordon Kingdom struggles with the fate of his seriously-ill wife while patiently observing and methodically recording the lives of those around him: his neighbours." The reviews promise me dark comedy and even darker despair.
  3. Dream Country by Donna Sorenson (sorry, Donna, I can't find the correct crossed o to put in your name): her first book of poems. As I'm looking to return to writing poetry myself this year, I thought Dream Country would be a good taster.
  4. Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman: the first novel in the Split Worlds series. Okay, fantasy is my favourite genre so this isn't far from my comfort zone but I've been raring to read her books since I came across them.
  5. Touch of Death by Kelly Hashway: Another fantasy novel, this time in the young adult sector. Kelly is a prolific and diverse writer across genres and age groups. 
So there you have it. I have Suzanna's novel in book form but since I received a Kobo mini at Christmas, I may read the others as e-books (if my husband will be kind enough to download them for me. I still have to learn how to do that. Thank heavens for my gadget loving husband.). What are you reading this year?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Friday Forgetful Fi (Tuesday Choice Words)

Whoops! Dead Fit has run away with me (and my time) and I completely forgot to post this week's Tuesday Choice Words. So here you are, a useful link and a thoughtful image. I promise to do better next week.

You, as the Muse Sees You by Steven Pressfield is a wonderful reminder of the value of writing on a regular basis.

Monday, 13 January 2014

New Project No. 1

This weekend, I started on one of my 2014 writing projects. 'Dead Fit' is the first of the two murder mystery plays I plan to write this year. I had January pencilled in for working on my novel but a request from a friend on Friday night led to a massive brainstorm session this weekend.

  • a 20 to 30 minute murder mystery play,
  • first act needed in a week,
  • known cast of 10 (4 male, 6 female) aged from late 20s to 70s,
  • 9 motives for murder,
  • and a setting that requires minimum staging and props.

Stories, of all kinds, always have a starting source. Perhaps, it's a character - that little old lady you saw at the  bus stop - that begs for a plot, or a newspaper story that places a 'what if' in your mind. With my murder mystery plays, there are always two starting points:
  • Who is the murder victim?
  • Why would anyone murder this person?

I have an answer to the first question. Priscilla is a flamboyant aerobics instructor in her sixties. I'm still working on the 'why'. A weekend of late nights and early mornings have led to the completion of Act One, written, re-drafted and polished, ready to send off. 

Act One serves its purpose of introducing the characters and dropping in a few clues. My next task is to compile a list of motives. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Tuesday Choice Words

With the start of this year, comes a new start for my novel, Haven Falling. Having completed the third draft, I've decided to re-write it for the 9-12 year age range. Although it is really the fourth draft, it feels like a first draft in many ways so I was interested to read this article from Bookbaby - How to write your book's first draft like a professional.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Old year, new year

2014 is upon us but I didn't want to start this shiny, new year without reflecting on the one that's just passed.

2013 was the year when I proved to myself that 'I can' if I believe in myself. I can:
On a personal note, 'I can' lose weight and keep it off. Between June and December, I lost 2 stones in weight. I have more to lose yet but I'm confident that I can be down to my target weight  by the summer. 

My word for 2014 is 'refresh'. I have so many good things in my life already but I feel that I need to look at many of them with new eyes. I have no new year resolutions as such, just an incredible amount of optimism and excitement for the next twelve months. I have two murder mystery plays to write, a year's worth of blog posts and a novel to revamp for the 9-12 year age range. Plus I'm hoping to have to buy new clothes as I lose more weight. 

So there you have it - my old year and my new year. What about you?