Thursday, 29 January 2015

Photo Inspiration for January

One of the few constants in our busy lives is the sky. Whether it's filled with clouds or clear, it is always there. Personally, stopping to look up has saved me from making several bad decisions. It's comforted me and given me fresh perspective too.

Wherever you are, in a city, in the countryside, even sat inside, look up and the sky is there. How does it make you feel? Does the sky set your mood or set you free? How can you use the sky in your writing? Does its mood reflect the mood of your writing? Does it bring together all the characters under it? Is it oppressive? In your writing, is it the Earth sky you can see, or an alien sky?

Tell me about your sky.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Tuesday Choice Words

I love creating new characters. For my murder mystery plays, they will probably already have a name or a job or an age, which is always a good start. For my novels, though, I've had to form my characters completely from scratch (apart from Hartley - he's been with me for decades).

Janice Hardy's article, The How to Create a Character  Game on the Publishing Crawl website offers a fun way to bring to life a new set of characters. Have a look.

Cesca Major talks about where she writes.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Something Useful for 2015 - Exercise No. 10

Today, the weather is frosty and grey. There are no warm skies to compliment the remains of ice and white left by the night-chill. The view through my window is blanched, bled out, deathly pale. I long for a touch of blue or green to lift my mood.

Weather is a constant although it is so commonplace that we don't always notice it. Rain. Snow. Fog. Sun. It all affects us in some way - the clothes we wear, the route we take to work, and how we feel when we step out of the door on a morning. It can also be a mood setting device in our writing.

Dark clouds can bring a feeling of impending doom. Floods suggest the loss of control. Snow can be magical or a blanket over what is buried beneath it. Sunshine lends optimism. Victorian smog added to the element of mystery and something unpleasant lurking unseen in Gothic novels. There are so many ways that weather can be used to affect the reader.

Write an opening paragraph where the weather creates a mood.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Tuesday Choice Words

I'm a planner. I set out my vision for my novel before I begin to write - chapter plan, character sketches (vague ones) and ideas for links to future novels. For me, this gives me a clear picture before I put pen to page.

Janice Hardy discusses just this in Revising Your Outlines to Make the Writing Easier on her Fiction University website.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Goals (not resolutions) for 2015

As I've said in the past, new year resolutions don't generally work for me. January never seems like the right time to 'begin' anything. It's cold, an anticlimax after the festive break and generally, I'm skint. Spring always sees me much more motivated and likely to start new things.

So instead of new year 'resolutions', I'm setting a number of goals for the year - realistic, doable goals that I've a more than fair chance of achieving.

Firstly, there's my novel (Haven: Shadowbinder). It's currently in the care of the writer, Brian Keaney as he assesses it for me, via the Writer's Workshop. Brian writes novels for children and young adults and once I finish my current reading list, I've decided that I must buy a couple of his books. His report should reach me before the end of January so once I've read, re-read and mentally digested his words of wisdom (and probably dried my eyes), my first goal of the year will be to revise my novel.

Secondly, once said novel is revised, I'll begin the search for an agent. This is the one goal that is really out of my hands. Fingers crossed, my novel will be sufficiently polished (and good enough) to catch the eye of an agent.

Along with this, I'll be working on the first draft of my second novel. I'm around halfway through already thanks to last November's NaNoWriMo. The goal is to finish the first draft and then, after a month of it sitting in a drawer, revise it.

For my business, Murdering The Text, I've set the goal of writing two more murder mystery plays to add to my catalogue. These may end up being customer commissions but if not, I have plenty of ideas stored away already. One that is particularly amusing me at the moment is set at a sci fi convention - just how much fun can be had with a Darth Vader helmet and a lightsabre?

Finally, on a more personal note, I want to continue with my healthy eating and lose the rest of my weight (about a stone) before my birthday in January 2016 (the big half century - gulp).

So there you have it - my 2015 goals (not resolutions). Fingers crossed I can cross them all off the list. What about you? What are your goals for the next twelve months?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tuesday Choice Words

So are you doing anything different with your writing in 2015, or are you walking the same path as before? Has your mindset switched up a gear, or are you still focused on those goals that you had in 2014?

In 7 questions that will transform your writing in the new year, writer Jennie Nash offers up a new way to approach our writing that covers competition, marketing and story structure, amongst other topics. Have a look.

Mac Barnett's TED talk - Why a good book is a secret door

Thursday, 8 January 2015

2015 Reading List

Last year's reading list looked something like this:
  1. Ninety-Five Percent Human by Suzanna Williams (read it)
  2. Skulduggery Pleasant  by Derek Landy (read it)
  3. The Rose Labyrinth  by Titania Hardie (read it)
  4. A is for Angelica by Iain Broome (read it)
  5. Dream Country by Donna Sorenson (read it)
  6. Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman
  7. Touch of Death  by Kelly Hashway (read it)
  8. Small Kindnesses by Satya Robyn
  9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  10. Sepulchre by Kate Mosse
  11. Magyk by Angie Sage
  12. Dark is the Sea by Heather Blanchard (read it)
  13. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  14. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  15. Never Look Back by Clare Donoghue
I read seven out of fifteen books, not bad, but there's much room for improvement.

My 2015 reading list looks like this:
  1. Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman
  2. Small Kindnesses by Satya Robyn
  3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  4. Sepulchre by Kate Mosse
  5. Magyk by Angie Sage
  6. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  7. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  8. Never Look Back by Clare Donoghue
  9. Mystery Man by Colin Bateman
  10. Duma Key by Stephen King
  11. Rose Madder by Stephen King
  12. The Golden City by John Twelve Hawks
  13. The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
  14. A Song of Stone by Iain Banks
  15. Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
Will I manage to read them all? Wait and see.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Tuesday Choice Words

The new year is six days old and I'm sure that most people are clinging to their new year resolutions. If one of your resolutions is to tackle a novel this year, then a good place to start is this video in the Life Labs series by writer, Lucy Atkins - I want to write a novel in 2015. Have a look.