Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Three sentences meme

Found this on Karen's blog and decided to have a quick break from work

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

Well, I'm researching Christina Rossetti at the moment and the following is from the biography of her by Frances Thomas (and is about Christina's brother Dante Gabriel and Lizzie Siddal)

Cathy Brown remembered Gabriel sitting in an armchair, murmuring 'Guggums, Guggums, Guggums,' in a kind of trance. Brown calling at Chatham Place one day in 1855 found Lizzie looking thinner and more deathlike and more ragged than ever, a real artist, a woman without parallel.' Gabriel was drawing 'wonderful and lovely "Guggums" one after another each one a fresh charm each one stamped with immortality.'

How sad that their friend thought Lizzie's emaciation made her a 'real artist', unless she was being tongue in cheek, in which case, still very sad, and how annoying was Dante Gabriel! I just want to shout at him - she's dying you idiot! (She actually lived for another seven years but was very very ill)

I would like to tag Calistro, A. Writer, Moondreamer, Leigh and Maddie Moon.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Life is a Cabaret

At least it was last night, when Cabaret Heaven came to town. It's a monthly event and is always a good excuse to get dressed up and drink too much cider.

Last night was particularly fine - we started off with a game of bingo (the house speciality) and then five amazing acts including
Mik Artistik who was fantastic - had us all crying laughing (and buying his CD at the end). He's at Glastonbury and a couple of other festivals this year, so catch him if you can. (If this doesnt make you smile then try it after a couple of bottles of Westons Organic cider - it's a winning combination.)

Also on the bill was Mr Tundra who did an amazing 'tongue throwing' thing (had to be there) and seemed to be able to hypnotise members of the audience to do his will (like a silent Derren Brown).

All of this rounded off with a foot stomping disco and some wierd and wonderful encounters with people we didn't know we knew. One of the best things about the cabaret nights is that they attract a whole range of ages - so as overexcited teenagers pranced around on the stage, old men smooched together on the dance floor, a wild eyed beauty waved her arms like a windmill and everyone else danced like it was the last school disco ever.

Even better, I woke up without a hangover AND with two story ideas and the fourth charatcer that I need for novel #2 (he wasn't in the bed with me you understand, just in my head.)
Quality stuff, which made up for me having to work all day today. I did manage to shut my books up at 4 though and slope off to the cinema with the daughter to watch Spiderwick Chronicles- (mini review - very enjoyable, good effects, beautiful flower fairies but it felt at times like they were trying to cram too much in to a short time (but hey maybe its aimed at faster paced minds than mine). The little one enjoyed it- though she found it a bit too scarey).

Also today I compiled a 'story table'. This was brought on by me finding a story the other day that I had forgotten I had written and which hadn't yet been sent out looking for a home. I decided I needed to get organised. I now have a table of all my stories, where I have sent them, how they fared and colour coded according to their current availabilty. OK, so I was procrastinating, but in a positive way, and I felt very pleased with myself as at the end of it all I had three stories in need of a home - they will be dispatched forthwith.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Story arcs

At least I think that's what they are called. Anway I plotted one this morning. I thought it was about time as there is lots of stuff coming up in The Novel (ooh very excited that I may have come up with a title too!) and I was getting a bit bogged down in what was going to be revealed when and where and to who, and it was getting in the way of the writing.

I've used a lumpy parabola-shaped one with a gradual climb dotted with crises up to a climax at about 65,000 words and then a steep descent in the aftermath. Sort of like this

Having never written a novel before I am only just getting to grips with large scale plotting and I have found this has really helped. I was very relieved, I have to say, to discover that my novel does have a plot! And it's one that, according to my story arc, can be sustained over 80,000 words without, hopefully, peaking too soon.

The details of the arc may change of course (I did it in pencil just in case) but for now it looks lovely in my notebook with stars along its curve marking significant events and the whole thing neatly divided up into chapters. Now that I've got it in down in grey and white I can get on with writing the bloomin' thing, which is the bit I enjoy

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Where do stories come from?

I got a story idea from a dream this morning . I jumped out of bed when my alarm went off at six in the middle of a fairly lucid, if a bit weird, dream. As I was making my cup of tea to drink while I got stuck back into The Novel I was still thinking about it and it formed itself into a story idea - a short story maybe or a segment of something longer (novel #3?). Anyway I typed it up straight away and have it now for future reference.

I introduced a new character into my novel this morning. He is key to the whole thing so I want to get him right and I was really pleased how parts of his character unearthed themselves as I wrote. The next chapter is looking a bit blank in YWriter at the moment but its going to be a biggy story-wise so I'm looking forward to getting stuck in - I'm going to go for the "just write it all down and see what happens" approach and see if I can surprise myself!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things

by Jon McGregor is wonderful. A fantastic example of keeping your reader guessing but tying everything up beautifully at the end so that you think 'but of course'. Gorgeous writing too - I found myself copying down some of his images in my notebook. I finished the last three chapters tonight while My Man was making tea - I just couldn't put it down. Definitely a recommended read.

My Man let me off my unhelpful-at-teatime behaviour because I am in recovery - from a weekend away with 20 children, only one of which was mine. I help run a local Woodcraft Folk group and we had a residential weekend at a camping barn. It was, to copy the thread of a popular meme, in six words - inspiring, heartwarming, energetic, exhausting, friend-making, cold. The 'cold' bit was particular noticeable in the middle of Friday night when my sleeping bag was proving inadequate

and the 'exhausting' hit when I got home and realised I only had to be concerned with the needs and energies of one child not twenty and suddenly felt my body collapse with the relief. I wasn't on my own with them all of course, there were five other adults there who were all fantastic and we had a really good time. The kids were amazing, as was the location, the food, the company and the campfire on Saturday night with the beautiful lanterns and apple crumble we had made that morning. And yes we did sing.

I think it's been good for my head having a weekend of no writing at all and very little reading (until teatime today). I'm really looking forward to hitting the novel again tomorrow - but tonight I'm settling for a warm bath, a glass of wine and catching up on Doctor Who.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Six Word Autobiography

Thanks for this challenge Calistro, although the results may be just the product of a long day rather than a meaningful insight into my life:

Me in six words:

Is tired, would like to sleep


Tries to do to much and...

or, on a more upbeat note

Optimist, will not give up, yet


Loves family, friends, writing and parties

and, now that I've had a cup of tea, written a to-do-list and decided that everthing is really going to be pretty fab:

Let's dance, eat chocolate, drink wine

Wednesday, 16 April 2008


Daniel Clay: How I escaped the Slush-Pile

Found the above article by the author of Broken following a link from Sally Qs post about the "How To Get Published" masterclass at the London Book Fair. I haven't yet reached the sending my novel out to agents point yet but I have reached the bit where I can imagining it happening at some time in the near future.

This, and Sally's link to an account of the Conference certainly gave me stuff to think about.

Monday, 14 April 2008

I'm here!

Well done if you have found me in my new home. I haven't changed the decor just the name. It feels exciting to be anonymous - I can say anything I like! But not yet, not while there is still a link from my named blog (don't know who I'm kidding myself is reading this stuff!)

Anyway, I thought that as I had made the move I should at least write a new post for anyone who finds their way here.

Being doing lots of the writing stuff. In fact the still-to-be-named novel is moving along so merrily that I have reinstalled my word-ometer, I am now using one designed by the Lovely Leigh and I am looking forward to watching it fill up. I also sent off an entry for the Harpers Bazaar / Orange short story comp. Was a bit shocked to discover, almost too late, that I had to send a 'passport photograph' along with my entry. I'm not a great one for photos, especially of the passport kind, but I eventually found one that I hope will satisfy their requirements. One friend suggested that they ask for a photo to prove that you are female - I'm not convinced that the photo I sent will do that!

I then received an email from Fish Publishing asking for a short biog to accompany my story in their anthology and, yup you've guessed it, a photo. What to do? I'd already sent off my best one to Harper's Bazaar (and yes it was a real photo not a digital one so I don't have a copy)

I decided to take action and so spent yesterday afternoon and early this morning in the garden with My Man having a 'shoot'. Took the 36 results (some of which may even include me looking at the camera/ having my eyes open/ not looking like a man) off to the shop today and will be able to pick them up on a CD tomorrow. Now that I am anonymous I may even include one of them on this blog.

Monday, 7 April 2008

The number you have dialled is engaged ....

Has it really been a week since I last posted. Oh dear, I knew something had to give in the new regime. I'm managing to fit in writing and working into the day but at the expense of my blog. I haven't even been reading other people's blogs and feel quite out of the loop. Never mind hopefully I can catch up.

I actually spent most of today neither writing nor working but frustratingly trying to buy tickets for a lovely festival up on the Solway Firth. Not much point me promoting it here as the ticket sales web site has crashed (in fact it crashed within minutes of it being wound up/ prodded awake this morning and it takes on average nine hours to get through on the phone (seriously folks!)). But at 5.30 this afternoon I became the proud owner of two and half tickets and we will be there August Bank Holiday, rain or shine. Good luck to any one else out there still pressing the redial button.

(not a very relevant cartoon but it made me smile)

Got up for my early morning writing session today and - didn't write a word of my novel! No it wasn't the delights of Spider Solitaire or the pile of dirty washing begging to be stuffed into the machine that distracted me - it was my planned entry for the Harper's Bazaar / Orange Short Story comp.

I already have a story on the theme (Ambition). I've had it for a while, it's never been submitted anywhere else and I really like it, BUT - it needs some tinkering. Quite a bit of tinkering actually, besmattered as it is with my trademark [,,,,] and [????]s which stand for 'something brilliant will be inserted here, at some point, I just don't know what it is yet'. It might be something as irrelevant as the name of the cat or as important as the whole reason why somebody has acted the way they have. Sometimes I find the right words, other times I just give up and delete the brackets, neatly sew up the sentence and hope nobody spots the join.

Anyway I tinkered away quite happily for a couple of hours this morning. It felt really good to be working on a short story for a change and I plan to do the same tomorrow, when I might just get it finished- deadline is Friday and I don't particularly want to hear this one wooshing past.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Flying penguins

This is gorgeous!
You will believe that penguins can fly


Happy April Fools!