Friday, 30 March 2012

Mary Shelley and The Practice of Creativity

Today, the lovely Michele Berger has been kind enough to allow me to guest post on her blog as part of a series on Women Writers from the Past Who Inspire. The post is on Mary Shelley and you can find it here.

Michele's blog is well worth a visit, offering some excellent advice on writing and creativity.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

A Place I Treasure

Today I am following the Thursday Writing Prompt from the Mindful Living Guide. In case you'd like to follow this series of writing prompts too, please visit the above link. Today's theme is 'a place I treasure'. By the way, the twitter hashtag for this series of prompts is #wpthu.

Written with a pen and paper (step away from the computer for these exercises), here's my resulting piece.

A Place I Treasure

I spent the first twenty odd years of my life in a semi detached dormer bungalow in a suburb of York. After that, things went a little crazy. Over the course of the next twenty years, I would move house sixteen times. The first time was an opportunity to gain independence from my parents in a house share with a friend. A new lover would bring about another move. The end of that relationship caused another. Family responsibilities and the desire to buy a house would create a major relocation. Meeting my husband and fitting in with his career set me (and our children) down another avenue of new homes and fresh places. I've lived in five counties, two countries, various cities and a handful of villages. Unlike my stoic friends who remained in my home town, I've had little chance to find places to treasure or ground for roots. My family has been my centre and my home.

The places I therefore treasure are found in my memories. They are timeless snapshots of my past - snatches of emotion captured in the eye of a camera frame. Some still exist in reality. Others have long since given up the battle to 'progress' in the form of new roads and housing developments.

Mucky Trotters is one such remembered treasure. Running along the back of the house I was brought up in, it was a cinder track which skirted the edges of fields. Its uneven, broken surface revealed the grey and orange bricks of the lane's original construct., leading from the beginning of our street to a seeming dead end in a field that was gradually being encroached upon by the growing road system.

Mucky Trotters was a literal 'breath of fresh air', leaving behind the surburban mundane to visit a pocket of nature. Very few of the fields there were ploughed. Most were given over to grazing for nosey, patchwork cows. One of the fields was used as a small holding with ponies, goats, chicken and guinea fowls. A local girl, several years old than me, kept a palomino pony in another field. Walking our dog, playing with my friends or simply spending some silent time there released me from the bricks and mortar of my life. I could think clearly, create worlds in my mind, even talk to myself or the fox I sometimes saw evading me on the other side of a field. Life can have a habit of forcing us to don masks but walking along Mucky Trotters, I could be myself.

I live a long way from that lane now and I doubt it's the same as I remember. Still, I have my photographs - on paper and in my mind - and that is enough to keep my treasure nearby.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Sarah Baughman's Spring Fever

We're having a mini heat wave here in the UK at the moment. I say 'mini' but my fingers are firmly crossed that it continues over the Easter break. Spring has sprung and is inspiring us all.

Today I came across an excellent article on the Write It Sideways website - Giving Your Writing A Case of Spring Fever which ties our writing to this wonderful season. Please do have a look.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Lucky 7 Challenge

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be tagged in the Lucky 7 Meme challenge (for writers with works in progress or finished) by My Unpublished Life. I was actually having a bit of a bad day so this cheered me up no end. 

The rules of this challenge are as follows:

1. Go to page 77 of your current manuscript/work in progress.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences or paragraphs, and post them as they're written.
4. Tag 7 authors.
5. Let them know.

Sounds simple enough. My current work in progress is my fantasy novel, recently retitled 'Haven Falling'. Turning to page 77 and reading from line 7, the following 7 lines of the text read,

Sat at the table with the others, eating a lunch of stew and great hunks of bread, Steve suddenly had the strangest feeling. Surrounded by the woman who had prodded and nagged him for the last few years and three complete strangers, Steve felt at home. Hartley wolfed his food, dribbling the stew juices down his beard. Eleanor carefully nibbled at a piece of bread. Blessing and Isabelle sat close together, shoulders touching. It was like any family meal time that you could imagine and it seemed right. He felt accepted and more than that, he felt that he belonged here. He had lost his home, his possessions, even his identity, and yet for the first time in he didn't know how many years, he felt relaxed and content.

Many of the authors I would have listed here have been tagged in the challenge already so I'll try to find some fresh names to mention.

1. Lydia Sharp of The Sharp Angle
2. Jacqui Murray of Jacqui Murray's WordDreams
3. womagwriter of womagwriter's blog
4. Meg Waite Clayton of 1st Books
6.  Cally of Writing about Writing
7. Caroline Rance of Strictly Writing and her own site

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

World Storytelling Day - 20th March

Today is World Storytelling Day, "a global celebration of the art of oral storytelling". The aim is to get as many people as possible around our globe telling and listening to stories, in all languages and forms. You can find the main site here for details of the day, organised events around the world and how to take part.

This year's theme is trees and I thought that the photograph below was appropriate.

I saw this wonderful, old, gnarly tree when I was out for a walk with my family last summer. My seven year old son (six at the time) told me that it was the Old Tree of Asgard. We made up stories about it on the way home.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Mothers Day

I've never blogged on here about Mother's Day. I've mentioned my own mum on her birthday each year because in my eyes she deserves to be celebrated for the wonderful, often infuriating, always loving individual she was. Mothers Day, by comparison, can seem a little generic and exclusive too. I know of so many woman who are not biological mothers and yet are incredibly supportive and caring to those they know. Who celebrates them?

Today I will be spoilt by my husband and children but I'll also be thinking about the women who have touched my life who haven't been mothers themselves and yet have made a difference. Some are still with us. Others are not.

Auntie Betty - cantankerous, naughty, got through three husbands.
My godmother, Kath - 86 years old, still living in the house she was born in, never married. Despite her health not being good, she's always laughing and joking. Her hips don't work as well as they did but she still enjoys a dance.
Joan - best friend to my late mum and a good friend of mine. Even at 90 years old, she's still jetting off to South Africa on a yearly basis. My children see her as an adopted grandma. She's ever strong. ever positive and a joy to be around.

Monday, 12 March 2012

The clues to story telling

I've been avidly waiting for the release of John Carter. In fact, if I'm honest, I've enjoyed most films directed and written by Andrew Stanton (Wall-e, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo) so when I came across a talk by Andrew Stanton on  his approach to story telling, I was delighted.

You can find this thoughtful and informative speech on the TED site by visiting this link. Enjoy.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Bodrn's Song

Bodrn is an enigma. She has one foot in the human world and another in the realm of wild magic. She is an unknown quantity, dangerous, alien - other.

Moonchild by Shakespears Sister

Friday, 9 March 2012

Steve's Song

Steve Haven lives in a self-created and maintained isolation. He tells himself that he prefers it that way, that he's not good with people. It isn't until he's forcefully thrown into a new, seemingly chaotic world that he realises just how important it is to share his life.

Blue by Eiffel 65

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Connecting girls, inspiring futures

8th March marks this important date in the diary - International Women's Day. I used the IWD website's current theme as my title because it speaks volumes to me about what IWD is all about.

"Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more."
taken from the IWD website

You can display your support for IWD by adding their twibbon to your Twitter or Facebook accounts by visiting this link.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Hartley's Song

Some people would call Hartley Keg an optimist. He prefers to call himself an enthusiastic realist. He has spent his fair share of time in shadowy places but his love for life and it's magic has always kept him alive.

What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Blessing's Song

Like any seven year old girl, Blessing loves to do the normal things - play with her friends, spend time with her mother and create light orbs with her magic. Where others see only the rain, she sees the rainbow.

Rainbow in the Sky by Ziggy Marley

Monday, 5 March 2012

Isabelle's Song

Last week I was ill, incapacitated by pain after what should have been a routine visit to the dentist. I was on heavy duty painkillers and ironically, although taking the edge off the pain they were intended for, they gave me sickening headaches. I found myself in tears for a few hours each day and felt generally pathetic. Emotionally and physically, I curled up in a ball and did the bare minimum.

Even in this state of shutdown though, my muse found a way to inspire me. My inability to do a great deal physically and mentally led me to do one thing more - listen. I listened to my children talking, my husband's worries, the sounds outside the house, the news on TV and specifically to the music on the radio.

One song in particular grabbed my attention because it's lyrics beautifully matched the personality and life of a character in the novel I'm writing. This in turn got me thinking about songs that could represent other characters too. I'll tell you about those others later this week but for today, I thought I would share Isabelle's song with you. Putting aside the Banana Splits video, Paradise by Coldplay is perfect for this strong woman who has lost so much and yet still strives to keep life normal for her daughter.

Paradise by Coldplay