Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Tuesday Choice Words

Sometimes the most concise of writing advice can be the best. This Buzzfeed article - 27 pieces of advice for writers from famous authors - is just that.

And here is mine:

So only you can tell your story your way.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Getting Unstuck

The re-write/edit/revision of my novel is breaking my head. I have an updated chapter plan, not so different to the original but requiring a number of new chapters and a lot of juggling around of pieces of existing writing. Putting together the chapter plan was like tackling a challenging but do-able obstacle course. Once I got into my stride, it was fun. With the first fence past, I could see where I was going. I still can.

Writing the new chapters, however, is proving less attainable. I think my problem is that in my head, at the end of the last draft, I thought "that's it - done, finished" and of course it isn't. I'm taking up the reins of a stallion that I thought was happily bedded down, when in fact it was just taking a breather before the next race.

I know I can do this. In fact, I've already written the first new chapter, but the voice in my head, the one that prods, criticises and distracts, has bought itself a loudspeaker. I find myself tripping up over words and storylines that should flow.

Steven Pressfield calls this 'resistance'. The term is apt. I can feel myself resisting the opportunity to write. This is what he says I need to do.

It doesn't help that my children are on their Easter break at the moment and my husband is taking some of those days off too. Maybe, though, I'm just using that as an excuse. There are definitely timeslots over the day when I can find some peace to write. I just need to kick my 'resistance' out of the way and do it.

I don't really believe in writer's block, not for me anyway. I know I can push through this, play those negative thoughts at their own game and distract them long enough to get some writing done. Camp Nanowrimo is one of those distractions. Freewriting could be another. Whatever I do, I need to park the resistance and just get on with my novel.

Chapter two beckons, a new chapter two. Wish me luck.

Friday, 27 March 2015

I'm camping out in April

In November last year, I took part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and got a massive amount of work done on my novel. Now that I'm revisiting/redrafting/ rewriting/editing (any of these may apply) my novel post manuscript assessment, I feel like I need another boost to get me going.

Camp Nanowrimo is for writers who want to return to the chaos *cough* concentrated effort of a month's committed writing. It takes place twice a year. I'm dipping into it this April.

Unlike the full November NaNoWriMo, you can choose your own wordcount and you are also assigned to a cabin with a number of other writers to share the experience with you.

Working from home, I sometimes lack the momentum that working out there in the real world with a team of colleagues can provide. Camp Nanowrimo is just what I need.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Tuesday Choice Words

Re-jigging my novel post assessment is proving to be both a joy and a challenge. Taking what I had, re-writing some, adding more, and beginning the novel in a different place, is making my head hurt slightly but I'm getting there. A large portion of the changes in my novel will be in the run-up to the ending.

On the Better Novel Project website, Christine Frazier's article How to Transition to Your Story's Climax with a Gatekeeper has proved very helpful in my rewrite. Have a look.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Something Useful for 2015 - Exercise No. 11

The idea for this month's writing exercise sprouted on a weekend trip to a place called Bodelwyddan Castle. This is what got me thinking.

My children dashed into the maze ahead of us and disappeared from view. We could hear them running along passageways, with the occasional glimpse of them through a gap in a hedge, but we didn't meet up again until we found the exit.

Imagine a maze. What does it look like? What purpose does it serve? Is there a centre or just an exit? Is the entrance also the exit? Are the walls of the maze made from hedges, bricks or some other material? Is it open to the sky or enclosed by a roof? Is it joyful or frightening? Are there distractions along the way?

Are there statues in your maze?

Can you see the light of the sky?

Do you cross waterways?

Are there clues in your maze?
Go on. Tell me about your maze.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Tuesday Choice Words

Sometimes, it's good to keep things simple. In his article, 10 Ridiculously Simple Tips for Writing a Book, Jeff Goins breaks down the creative process to a few easy to follow steps. Have a look.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

The Word Wizard has left the house.

A few days ago, I heard the sad news that Sir Terry Pratchett had died at the age of 66, after an ongoing battle with Alzheimers. The news stopped me in my tracks. 

There are some writers who you never really get to know - you remember their books (perhaps) but the writer stays in some hazy focus. This was never the case with Terry Pratchett. It wasn't that he was a publicity whore, although he never shied away from that visibility either. It was more that when you read one of his books, you read a little bit of him - his humour, his amazing talent with words and his slant on life. 

I first came to his books at a time in my life when I was searching - for a writing style, for my place in life, for an identity that felt right. I don't even know how I happened on The Colour of Magic. I didn't know of any friends reading his books at the time (although they may well have been). I was attracted by the cover design and the genre. I had no idea of the joyful, magical journey I was letting myself in for. 

When I finished that book (quickly), I couldn't say goodbye to Rincewind (the terrible wizard - he was terrible at being a wizard), so I snapped up the next novel, The Light Fantastic, which was, as the title suggested, a fantastic read. Here again was Rincewind, his home city Ankh-Morpork, and the tourist Twoflower with his faithful Luggage, but there were also other wonderful, colourful characters too (Death  was a personal favourite) and a deeper understanding of the book's setting, the Discworld.

There were cameras that opened up to reveal a little man painting pictures, universities of wizards, a librarian who preferred to remain in the shape of an orangutang, and a warehouse for 'pork in potentia' (pork that didn't exist yet).

Pratchett was a prolific writer, publishing a book every year for most of his writing life. I must have read around twenty of his books which means I have as many again left to read, plus his latest venture in which he partnered with Stephen Baxter to write the Long Earth books.

My children have started to read my dog eared copies of the Pratchett books too. They love his irreverent, fantastical humour. I recently bought them his book of short stories - Dragons at Crumbling Castle. My husband completes the picture as a Pratchett-ite. We are a family of fans.

One of the things that most writers would like is to be remembered for their writing, to leave a legacy that will ultimately outlive them and leave an impression on the world. Sir Terry Pratchett just did that.

- Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Photo Inspiration for March

Last month was manic for me, and not in a creative way. Real life took me away from my writing and I completely forgot to give you a photo inspiration post. This month, I'm giving you two photographs to make up for it.

Written on the back of this photo - Nov 1946, left to right Peggy, Margaret, Marie.

Written on the back of this photo - Nov 1946, left to right Billy, Margaret, Peggy.

These two photographs are from a collection I have of unknown faces. I'm sure if my mother was still alive, she could tell me who they were but in her absence, I can only surmise that these were friends of hers or her family.

Which photo are you drawn to and which face within that photo? Personally, I can't see much of a family resemblance between them. I know that Billy is Margaret's child. I have no idea where this was taken but I assume that it's somewhere in Yorkshire, England.

What do you think? Was this a trip out with family? Was it summer time? 1946 was the year after the second world war ended in Europe. I have other photographs of Margaret and Billy but there is never a man present in those images. 

What would these photographs inspire you to write?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Tuesday Choice Words

One of the challenges I've set myself for the year is to return to short story writing, probably tales linked to my novel, and within that I'm taking on another challenge, to write from first person point of view. Normally, my writing is third person but I want to see how limiting/liberating using first person perspective is.

Cesca Major talks about different points of view in this video. First person? Third person? Which do you prefer?

Friday, 6 March 2015

Trailer Reveal: The Darkness Within by Kelly Hashway

Today, I'm helping out a fellow writer by posting a  trailer reveal for her novel. The Darkness Within is the follow on novel from Kelly Hashway's young adult book The Monster Within.

The Darkness Within continues the story of teenager, Samantha and her boyfriend Ethan.

After dying of cancer at seventeen and being brought back to life by an evil witch who turned her into a monster, Samantha Thompson thinks she's finally gotten past all the tragedy in her life. Now she's part of a coven of good witches who are helping her and her boyfriend, Ethan Anderson, learn to use the powers they received from other witches. Aside from the fact that Sam and Ethan are still in hiding from their old lives - the ones they had before Sam was brought back to life - things couldn't be better. Sam and Ethan are inseparable. What could go wrong? 


Ethan's magic came from a witch who'd turned as evil as possible, and though his coven thought he'd be fine, the more he uses his magic, the stranger he starts acting. The magic inside him is changing who he is. One minute he's Sam's sweet, perfect Ethan and the next, he's a complete stranger. Even with all her witchy power, Sam is helpless against the magic corrupting Ethan. Can Sam find out what's wrong with him before she loses him to dark magic forever?

Sound good? Well, here's the trailer I promised.

The novel is out in June this year but you can find more information (and pre order) through the following links:

Goodreads/Amazon/Barnes and Noble

About the writer:

Kelly Hashway grew up reading R L Stein's Fear Street novels and writing stories of her own, so it was no surprise to her family when she majored in English and later obtained a masters degree in English Secondary Education from East Stroudsburg University. After teaching middle school language arts for seven years, Kelly went back to school and focused specifically on writing. She is now the author of three young adult series, one middle grade series, and several picture books. She also writes contemporary romance under the pen name Ashelyn Drake. When she isn't writing, Kelly works as a freelance editor for small presses as well as her own list of clients. In her spare time, she enjoys running, travelling, and volunteering with the PTO. Kelly currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter and two pets. She is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Find Kelly online:

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Last year, life impinged on my reading time. This year, I decided to make reading a priority (see my reading list here) and as my first book for 2015, I eagerly picked up the children's book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

This is the back cover blurb,

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts.

There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard. But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks for it is there that the man Jack lives and he had already killed Bod's family.

Neil Gaiman's dark, rich imagination has always appealed to me, ever since I read Neverwhere. His tone of writing voice is thoughtful, poetic and often unpredictable, pulling you along through his stories.

The Graveyard Book begins in a very dark way - murder. It introduces us immediately to the assassin, the man Jack and the peril that our protagonist, Bod is in.

Gaiman's portrayal of Bod as a child, at different ages, is completely believable. In fact, the whole book, although strange on the surface (a child living in a graveyard amongst ghosts and ghouls) uses the familiarity of family, childhood, and growing up to bind the story together.

I was already two chapters into the book before I realised how entranced I was by it. I hadn't stopped to think or put the book down until that point. I'm a critical reader but The Graveyard  Book is so magical and well written that the critic completely disappeared - poof.

It's been a while since I felt sad as I finished a book but that was exactly how I felt as I came to the end of this one. I miss Bod, the ghosts and especially Silas but I suppose that's how a good book (definitely an understatement in this case) should leave you - sad, a little teary and all the better for having known it.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Tuesday Choice Words

What did you want to be when you grew up? By the time I was seven years old, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Other jobs appealed to me from time to time - veterinary assistant, actor, teacher - but I always returned to my love of writing. I don't know exactly what it is about me that made me into a writer - imagination, persistence, certain life events - but those things have certainly added to the mix that is me.

Elizabeth Berg's article What It Takes to Be a Writer on Medium explains her thoughts on this topic. Have a look.