Category Archives: Writing – General

Sunday Write-Up – March 2020

Sunday Write Up HeaderBack to help me keep creative during the COVID-19 lockdown, decided to do some little ‘writing sprints’ to pass the time – feel free to join in, take a week to write your piece (no more than a couple of hours worth of writing effort required 🙂 and then share here in the Comments, or on your own blog and drop us a link here, so that we can come and check it out!)

Posting here on my blog, as well as on Aside from Writing – don’t be bored, give it a go.

This week’s five words are:

rosy       wild      other     hindsight      beat

This piece works as a snippet to a book I’ve been playing around with for a few years – not sure if it will go anywhere, but a bit of a different style for me…

 

Saturday 24th March 2007 

Age: Still Twenty-Seven and Nine Months

Life Lesson: Booze and friendship are great, but they do not mend a broken heart

The taxi pulled away as I stumbled, high heels in hand, towards the wobbling outline of the front door. The girls were hanging out the windows shouting goodnight and don’t puke on the gnome, but I didn’t turn around, just waved my arm vaguely in the air. I did not want to be distracted from the epic challenge of finding the door keys inside my small clutch bag. 

I dropped the bag on the floor and was left holding a lip gloss. “Shit.” I glared at Rosy Glow and tried again.

Bending down, I picked up the bag and put the lip gloss back inside. Fumbling through the silky material again, I came up with something round and metal. Victory!

“Shit.” It was a rogue coin, just dumped into the bag loose after I’d bought that round of apple sour shots, because they were a wild green colour. 

Then I dropped the bag again. Sigh. “Shit,” I mumbled, one last time as I bent down and resigned myself to searching at ground level for safety. This was a picture of class if any of the neighbours poked their head out of the window at this time in the morning. A few moments later I came up with the keys. 

Tonight it helped that the door was white, and stood out from the rest of the house: it made finding the key hole easier. On my second attempt, I managed to get the key in the lock and opened the door. 

Even through the fog of booze, I felt the quiet, emptiness of the house wash over me as I stood on the doorstep. I didn’t need to be quiet as I came in, there was no one to wake up. I didn’t need to pretend to walk straight, to prove I wasn’t drunk. No one would tell me off for leaving my shoes in the middle of hallway, when they tripped over them – there was no one to trip over them, except me. 

Stepping inside, I dumped my shoes and bag, and locked the door behind me. A slight wobble from a few too many drinks: I leaned back against the closed door, shutting my eyes and realised in hindsight that mixing cocktails based on them being pretty rainbow colours had not been the best idea I’d ever had. Everything was quiet and I was alone. 

Not quite alone. I heard a squeaky, snuffling noise coming from the kitchen and headed in that direction. 

Opening the door, Millie greeted me, teddy in her mouth and tail wagging. “Hey Mills,” I bent down and fussed her, rubbing her soft black ears until she made her funny, happy-grunty noise. Snarf, she replied before trundling off back to bed with teddy. 

“Yeah, it’s nice to see you too.” I headed towards the sink, pushed stuff around in the cupboard until I found a glass, then filled it with water. I drank the first one in big, full gulps, suddenly realising  how thirsty I was. The rainbow of vodka shots I’d drunk tonight had obviously not been thirst quenching, they’d just filled a gap for a few hours.  

I filled the glass a second time and then meandered tipsily towards Millie’s bed, at the other end of the kitchen. She sat up as I approached and so I slid down the wall, landing in the warm and newly vacated space beside her. Worrying about dog hairs on my dress was the least of my problems right now – I wasn’t going to beat myself up about it.

Millie nudged my arm and dropped teddy into my lap. 

“It’s not fetch time,” I told her, placing the teddy back into her mouth. 

Snarf she said again, before she sighed and plopped her head down on my legs instead. 

I sighed myself and began stroking Millie’s ears absent-mindedly, drifting off into a little drunken haze. 

It had been good to be out of the house, away from the quiet and emptiness. The only problem now was that it felt twice as empty and quiet, as it had before. The house felt hollow, just as I did, and there was no one – and no amount of booze – that could help me with that.

I sighed again and then the tears began to fall, making cold, wet tracks on my face. It didn’t matter now, no one was here to see me and I didn’t have to be brave for anyone, so that they felt better. I cried silently, a slow and steady stream of tears trailing down my cheeks and dripping onto my dress. I didn’t wipe them away or try to stop. 

Who cares? 

“It’s just you and me now puppy,” I told Millie. 

   

Ederline

A little post from me for #WorldPoetryDay as I’m not normally one for writing poetry, but this is a piece I wrote a couple of years ago when I stayed in a little cottage in the middle of the Ederline Estate in Scotland. I finished Faris and the Monoceros whilst I was there, and the distinct lack of phone signal and lots of open green and blue spaces definitely cleared out the cobwebs. 

 

Ederline 

At first it is silence that you think you hear:

Leaving behind the noise of the city,

Driving away from your busy, working world.

But you are wrong.

 

There is an absence of the usual clamour,

And definitely more sheep than people,

But though you may find peace in these open spaces

It will not be quiet. This beautiful world cannot be silent.

 

Gentle breeze through tree branches makes them rush

With the white noise of a distant motorway,

But, there are no cars here

And for that you are glad.

 

Wilder winds, coming down from the hillsides

Bring the boom of an aeroplane passing overhead.

But the skies are clear here,

Except for racing clouds and gliding birds.

 

Birdsong at midday, is as loud as a suburban dawn chorus:

So many voices, so much to hear.

Then rain comes in – quiet by comparison to the rest –

And fills the fields with pale, blanket mists.

 

After the rain, comes the trickle of new rivers

Springing up in the fields and running towards

The streams, which heave and roar against their banks –

Rapids on your doorstep, foaming white and wild.

 

Do not come for silence, as you will not find it here

All around you, nature shouts out its unique melodies:

The wind, the rain, the streams, the trees…

All have a song to sing, if you are there to listen.

A little bit of marketing…

Well, this weekend I’ve done some editing (the good stuff, when you re-read your own writing and it feels like you’re reading something new to yourself, as if it’s not your own stuff) and re-jigged a whole lot of social media, marketing blog stuff. It’s surprising how long that takes! Let’s face it, I hadn’t posted on Facebook since February (!)

What can I say? I’m more of a Twitter person…

Anyway, I saw a really interesting post from someone who uses Pinterest a lot to market her blog (creating interesting visual pins for each of her posts and then linking them on to her blog). I spent quite a while juggling my boards and content around to be more ‘author’ and when I get a little more time I think I’ll do some test runs of this idea. In the past, I have created Pins of quotes from my books, which have circulated pretty well.

I had some good news on Saturday too, when I did the usual Amazon check of my book rankings, it was a nice surprise to see Faris and Jack at No. 4 in the Top 100 Horse books list!

Screen Shot 2017-09-09 at 14.47.54

It was the sequel to this book that I had been editing and I am hoping from a ‘marketing’ perspective that when I get the second book out there that a number of the people who have picked up book one will try the follow-up. I remember reading a post about publishing books in series and how a body of work was generally better and easier to market, as if one reader likes what you do they are likely to read more than just your one book – you only need convince them once! 🙂

I think most independent authors (and lots of traditionally published ones too) would agree that marketing and PR-ing your work is hard – it’s a whole other skill set than writing and not always easy to pick up once you’ve finished your book. In the past I have spent a lot of time on trying to push the books and bring readers in – now, my focus is more on the actual writing. If it’s a hobby, then I’m happy to put it out there and see what happens, with whatever nudges I can do with marketing to help it along. Faris and Jack has had the least amount of push and is the most successful book I’ve published so far (in terms of both volume and ratings). I think continuing this experiment and seeing what happens to Faris and the Monoceros when that comes out will be interesting.

Anyway, enough of my weekend, it’s nearly bedtime here in the UK, but if you’d like some ideas for refreshing your own book marketing, check out the article below. It tells us that marketing is not a one-time effort, that you need to rearrange your thinking and find ways to reinvigorate your book marketing to keep the momentum for this – and other books – going. Good luck! 🙂

http://blog.bookbaby.com/2017/08/reinvigorate-book-marketing/

‘Carry On’ and ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I remember reading a review of this by Becky at Blog of a Bookaholic and I quite liked the idea of the story. When I stood in WHSmith waiting to fly out to Florida in the summer, looking for another book to complete my 3 for 2 offer, I saw this and thought ‘why not’?

And then, I carried it to the US and back without reading it and placed it into the dreaded bedside table, where it ultimately became part of my challenge to clear out that book eating piece of furniture.

I really enjoyed Fangirl, not always for the storyline, which sometimes was a bit slow for me – but I loved Cather (although I wished she’d gone for Cath and Erin for the twins over Cather and Wren – it just reminded me of the word catheter, which isn’t a great connection to make). I think Rowell wrote a very believable story about an introverted character’s experience of going to university and particularly the thought-processes of a writer. There were things that Cath says in the book, which I can only assume link about to how Rowell feels about writing herself – and they could have been thoughts from my own head.

So, it wasn’t really the ‘fangirl’ elements of Fangirl I liked the most – it was reading about a writer, writing about what they read. The correlation between reading and writing, along with the experience of being a writer, was what I loved about this book. Probably not what was aimed at, or what most people will like about it, but that was what did it for me.

So, that brings us to…

Carry OnCarry On by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

DNF @ pg 145

I really hate not finishing books, but I was just finding this too hard to get into.

I really liked the Simon snippets in Fangirl and loved that book overall, but this just hasn’t worked for me. I think if it was written as the ‘proper’ Simon Snow book, i.e. like Harry Potter, I would have found it easier to engage with the story and characters – but as it is written in the style of fanfic, there was just too much implied knowledge needed for me to enjoy this.

So, sorry, just not for me.

View all my reviews

Can you picture it?

five-senses-icon-set_62147502195

Yes. But, can you hear it, touch it, taste it and smell it…?

It’s one of the biggest difficulties I’ve found in learning to write a book: slowing myself down in sharing the story, so that the reader can really come into the scene and be a part of everything that’s happening. We’re always being told to ‘show,  not tell’, aren’t we?

Even now I find it tricky to get this right. No one in the real world goes into every new room and smells it, touches and looks at every tiny detail – if they did, they wouldn’t venture very far in life! A lot of these things happen automatically and unconsciously – you wouldn’t want your characters to behave unrealistically and wander through every scene like Sherlock Holmes (well, unless they are a Sherlock Holmes-esque character I suppose). But, at the same time, there has to be depth, texture and realism in the worlds you build inside your books – otherwise they are a very empty place for your characters to exist.

In general, I tend to find that when I’m writing, I see the scenes like moments in a movie: I get the dialogue and the action sequences, the overall arch of the story and then I fill in the rest. Sometimes, I naturally must be working through a scene more slowly the first time I write, as the character will pick up some of these sensory textures and I don’t even remember writing them. Other times, when I’m doing a final edit, I’ll find myself with the questions on a jotter next to me, to remind myself: what does it smell like, what does the food taste like, how do things feel against the skin of my characters?

It doesn’t have to be every paragraph or even every page I don’t think, just a dash here, some detail there. A little like the camera zooming into close up on my scene for a few seconds, before expanding to a wider shot where the main action happens. I suppose I think of these elements like seasoning: some passages need strong flavours – lots of herbs and spices – to bring it to life; others need very little because the dialogue and action gives you everything you need. Over seasoning your writing would be as bad as it being too bland.

If you’re looking for more tips on ways to ‘season’ your writing, there’s a couple of good articles here for you to delve into:

Use All Five Senses to Enrich Your Writing

The Write Practice – Unlocking Your Senses