Thursday, 26 June 2014

Something Useful for 2014 - Exercise No. 5

About once a month, I spend a morning in a local coffee shop with a large latte and a newspaper. It started out as an occasional treat but has turned into a regular ritual. I read the i newspaper because I love the way it concentrates the news down into manageable chunks before extending the news stories a few pages later. I also like the fact that it only costs 30p. Other newspapers are getting as expensive as magazines these days (can you tell I was born in the sixties?  - "They don't know they're born these days.").

One thing I've noticed is that as I read the newspaper, stories begin to form in my mind. On occasion, a character will jump out of a news article or a setting will form for one of my murder mystery plays. They do say that life is stranger than fiction.

This month, I want you to take a news article (from a newspaper or an online news site) and use it as inspiration for a story. The news article could be a clue to a bigger picture or it could form the plot of your story.

Here is my news article:

Google reveals first Android Wear watches to go on sale

Google has announced the first smartwatches powered by its Android Wear operating system are now available for pre-order.

You can read the full article here.

The idea for these watches is that they will use apps like your mobile phone does. However, whereas a mobile phone can be put down, put away or even left behind, a smartwatch would be with you for most of your day. It would be easier to tie a wearing individual to the internet and social media and, ultimately, track them. Could there be a story in this?

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tuesday Choice Words

This article from Author House, Ten More Editing Tips, was written for those who are self publishing their work but I think it's just as useful for all of us. Have a look.

How to write a book - author Lisa Jewell's top 5 writing tips

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Dead Fit

"Stretch and breathe. Are you with me, ladies?"

Priscilla Vincente, mature, glamorous, aerobics instructor has the world at her well-manicured fingertips. Men fall at her feet. Other women just don't stand a chance. And as for her class, she has them just where she wants them (under her thumb and paying for the benefit). 

What could possibly spoil it all?

This is the second of my new murder mystery plays, set in an aerobics class with four male and six female characters. You can now buy it from my website. Have a look.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

The Pecking Order

Tom, Dick and Harry use Dick’s shed as a hideaway from their wives’ expectations but Wendy has other ideas for the space. Will she get her way and demolish the shed to make way for her summer house? Will Harry’s Star Wars collection remain safe in the attic? Will Bridget be sent away to live in a nursing home? Spend some time in the shed to find out.

This is one of the new murder mystery plays that I wrote this year for my business, Murdering The Text. All three plays were commissioned by customers. Two have been performed so far. The last takes place in late November and has a Christmas theme.

With four male characters and five female, you can find this new play on my website now.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

New: Fi's Reading List

I've just added a new page to my blog (you can see it on the Pages panel on the top right of this page) - my reading list for 2014.

I've drawn books from two intentions. Firstly, back in January, I told you that the nearest I'd come to making a new year's resolution would be the decision to read books of writers that I knew and interacted with online. Then in February, I told you how I was adding to my reading list by taking part in The Year of Reading Women.

There are fifteen books on my list. After a busy start to the year, I'm lagging behind as I've only read the first two, although I have started on number three.

I'll review some of the books on my blog (have you seen my review of the first book on my list, Ninety-Five Percent Human?).

What about you? What's on your reading list this year?

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Tuesday Choice Words

Sometimes the words just flow. On other days, I shuffle around in my chair, overdosing on cups of tea and feeling like a failure. Now, I have something to refer to when the muse cancels on me. Five Ways to Jump Start a Stalled Story is a post on the Fiction University website by Eleri Stone. It not only offers reasons why your creative flow may have dried up but solutions too. Have a look.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Book Review: Ninety-Five Percent Human by Suzanna Williams

Ninety-Five Percent Human is a young adult, science fiction novel, the first in a two-book series. It tells the story of sixteen year old Joe Kendrick who rescues a girl from drowning only to discover that she is a human/alien hybrid sent to Earth as a test. Now that she has survived on the planet, hostile aliens are planning to invade.

This novel very quickly grounds the reader in the reality of Joe's world - the Welsh landscape, his family farm, the local people - and draws us into his feelings about that world. There is a gentle humour to the book, the kind of banter you get between people that have known each other for a long time.

The book is written in present tense from Joe's point of view which allows the reader to react and learn along with the character. I liked Joe from the outset. He's hard working (unlike his medical student brother), responsible (he stays on at the family farm even though he doesn't want to) and willing to sacrifice himself for not only those he cares about but also the occasional stranger. He's an all round good guy who doesn't realise his own self worth at the beginning of the novel. The interactions between Joe and the other teenagers and young people took me back to when I was that age (which is a feat in itself seeing as I haven't been a teenager for quite a few decades). By the end of the novel, he's grown in courage and self assurance.

Experiencing the story unfold through Joe's eyes and using the present tense kept the story exciting for me. I wanted to finish the chapter (and then the next) before I turned out the light at night. The plot was on occasion a little predictable but the likeability of Joe and the quality of writing made me want to read on regardless.

I have two favourite scenes from the novel that are very different to each other. The first is the party that Joe and Sarah attend. It's probably one of the first times that Sarah has really relaxed and just been a 'normal' teenager. I was also reminded of parties I went to at that age which again is credit to the writer's grounding of the story in reality.

My second favourite scene is the UFO sighting at the local pub. I love the characters' reactions, cementing the personalities that have already been built up in previous chapters, but also it's good to see Joe and Sarah's plan come together, for once.

This is one of the first young adult novels that I've read - when I was a 'young adult', we didn't have this rating; it was children's novels or adults' novels - so I was unsure what I would find. Ninety-Five Percent Human is a well written, insightful novel that mixes up the reality of our world (and Joe's) with the concept of alien life forms and advanced technology into a believable and enjoyable read.

You can find Suzanna's website here.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Tuesday Choice Words

Creativity isn't about keeping to one blinkered view of 'how to' and 'shoulds'. It's a wellspring of experiences that can be gathered from many avenues of life.

I came to Marie Forleo initially for her business insights but she's also a very creative individual in not only her career but also her life in general. This entertaining and informative YouTube clip from Marie is about getting the mix right between authenticity and what your customers want. Have a look.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Taking location inspiration from real life

Real life doesn't just have to provide inspiration for our characters. It can also feed into the locations we use in our writing.

This is the school I attended between the ages of seven and eight years old. This photograph, and more of the interior, was kindly taken by an old school friend. I always loved this building and now it has provided the inspiration for Darkacre School in my novel.

Photograph taken by Dan Howard of
York Minster (from my home town) was the inspiration for the cathedral where Rex Haven's funeral takes place in my novel.

Taken from

The terraces of the South Bank area of York, where I lived for a time, are the streets of the old town in my novel.

The details don't have to remain the same - we writers are tailors of imagination after all - but basing our story locations in reality can add a grounding element to our writing that convinces our readers.

What real locations have you used in your writing?

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Tuesday Choice Words

I'm a big (understatement) fan of Game of Thrones and the whole experience that exists around the books and the TV programmes. My husband and I have infected our inlaws with our fascination for George R R Martin's imagination too. So today, I bring you a writing article from The Creative Penn - Writing Fiction: 5 Lessons From Game of Thrones. Even if you're not familiar with Game of Thrones, this article is still well worth a read.

Top Ten Writing Rules From Famous Writers
- Lyra Communications

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Photo Inspiration for June

A couple of days ago, I was putting out the rubbish when I saw this fine fellow. He's a Blue Adonis and apparently rather rare in the UK. In a messy corner, perched on an old grimy tennis ball, it was the vibrant colour of his wings and body that caught my eye. He was a flash of magic among all the jumble.

Butterflies have long been the symbol of transformation and new beginnings waiting to unfold. They are often seen as magical, which isn't surprising when you think of the hidden metamorphosis that takes place when a caterpillar changes into a butterfly.

So this is my monthly photo inspiration  - a butterfly, a splash of magic, a sign of transformation. What does this image inspire you to write?