Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Cut, Paste, File Away

I'm a bit of hoarder. It's a habit I inherited from my parents who lived through the second world war when the rule of thumb was 'make do and mend'. I hang onto things well past their useful date. Thankfully, necessity and several house moves have meant that I've had to let a lot of things go. The only area of my life that I have never de-cluttered is my writing.

I have diaries from my childhood up to adulthood, books and files of old writing, and a couple of novels that I wrote in the past and will one day revisit. That's just the writing that's been penned or printed out. There is a whole world of writing on my laptop and hard drive. Every scrap of writing that I have scribbled down, typed onto the note app on my mobile phone, or saved onto my laptop has been kept because I always have that niggling worry that I might just find a use for it all some day.

This habit has recently come in very handy while working on my novel, well, the novels that will come after my 'novel'. There's the deleted chapter about how Rex and Cormac first met which has given me a brilliant starter on their back story (an important element in books two and three). There are also two scenes that I had written for book two but felt I would have to lose when the storyline of novel one changed. I can now re-purpose those too. A chapter written for novel two that will no longer work because of changes to plot has provided me with a wonderful character who just spoke his way onto the page. I'm glad not to have to lose him. Even a description I wrote years ago of a dragon can now be used.

Dipping into my 'creative bank' has helped me piece together the story arc for the whole trilogy. I just have to write it now.

Are you a creative hoarder?

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Something Useful for 2016 - Exercise No. 19

Years ago (decades), I took part in a production of Confusions by Alan Ayckbourn, a set of five interlinked plays that dealt with the concept of loneliness and miscommunication. I played Beryl in the final play, A Talk In the Park, where the five characters talked at (rather than to) each other as they sat on a series of park benches.

It's an interesting visual approach to use a bench, made for more than one, to discuss loneliness.

Humans are by nature gregarious. We like to be with others, to belong, to be part of a community (be that family, village, football supporters club or work force). It isn't surprising then that we fill our leisure spaces with seating made for more than one.

Think of a bench. It could be a park bench, a garden bench, or even a church pew. Add a cast to your bench of one or more. What would your bench story be?

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Choice Words for February

I enjoy naming my characters, both in my plays and in the novel I'm working on. Some of them come ready-named, introducing themselves to me in a way that they could never be altered. Others take some time to work out. Hartley Keg was one of the former. So was Blessing Hawkes. Cormac Moran, on the other hand, went through several names before finding the right one.

In Naming your characters and settings, Roz Morris discusses the importance of name and how she finds them for her books.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Photo Inspiration for February

It's blustery here today. Storm Imogen is rattling our bones and hurrying us along. I'm sure that most people would prefer to stay indoors if they could, which made me think of this photo.

Hot chocolate and a croissant on a cold, rainy day. 

What does this inspire you to write?

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

What I'm doing this month - February

January seems to have flashed by in the  blink of a watery eye and suddenly February is here with its promise of spring. I feel like I've spent the month in a curious limbo, coming down after my birthday trip to Venice and reeling at the loss of so many icons.

First, there was David Bowie, such a wonderfully creative man, the brilliant actor Alan Rickman who I'll always remember as an irreverent angel, Glenn Frey from the Eagles, then finally the velvet tones and kindly ways of Terry Wogan. January seems to have left the world a little less colourful.

So February needs to be a new beginning, with fresh colour and creativity, and a renewed intent. That's how I'm treating it. Let's get this year started.


Novel 1 is still away with a handful of literary agents so I'm working on the next two novels. After eight rejections that all had much the same feedback (loved reading this, keep sending it out, but it's not for us), I posed the question to writer Kelly Hashway whether these agents were just being polite or if I actually had something worthwhile. She answered on her blog,

"So this rejection means just what it says. You're doing everything right. You wrote a great book. Now find that agent who loves it as much as you do. He or she is out there somewhere."

You can read the full article here.

Murdering The Text

Along with the work on my novels, I've also been drafting a new murder mystery script which will probably include the most catty dialogue I've written in a while. Always fun to pen.

As usual, I've had plenty of reading copy requests from clients, old and new, as amateur dramatics groups and fundraisers start to organise their diaries.


I've kept to my 2016 reading schedule and finished the first book on my list, Sepulchre by Kate Mosse. Next up is Small Kindnesses by Satya Robyn.

Leonard Mutch has just discovered his wife was lying to him for years - but can he bear to uncover the truth?

Leonard and Rose Mutch were happily married for forty years but after her sudden death, Leonard is shocked to find a train ticket in her handbag to a town Rose had never visited. Then a letter arrives from a childhood friend of Rose's, hinting at a past she never told him about.

Reluctantly embarking on an investigation into the life of the woman he thought he knew as well as himself, Leonard is faced with questions that threaten to destroy his happy memories. Why did Rose secretly leave work every Tuesday? Why did she tell lies about her family? And why is their daughter so desperate for him to stop digging into the past?

As his whole life threatens to unravel, Leonard must make an impossible choice - between his memories and a truth he could never have imagined.


After a return to exercise in January, I've stupidly injured my shoulder again. It's nowhere near as bad as the original injury though so February will see me taking plenty of exercise from the waist down (walking) while my shoulder repairs itself. It'll set me in good stead for the autumn when we plan to buy a dog.

A couple of years ago, I gave up sugar (or most of it) when I started a low carb eating plan. Last year, I fell off the wagon though and have felt lousy ever since. February marks my return to cutting sugar from my diet as much as possible. Wish me luck.


So there you have it. My February - my new start. What have you got planned?