Tag Archives: creative writing

Researching hate

1 Nov

For just the tiniest smidgen of my novel, I needed an idea of how racist rallies work. I’ve never been to a protest of any kind (although I walked near one once; there were about five people waving placards in Southampton city centre – I think they were protesting the Iraq war) so I didn’t/don’t know how they really work. My character is hearing the protests from a distance, so that didn’t matter too much.

What I did need to know was what sort of slogan would be chanted at a protest with a racist objective. So I delved into the dark places of the internet. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did find a strong urge to vomit. I found a blog with horrible jokes about Muslim people, dehumanising and disgusting, and further posts from the same blog explaining why Muslims weren’t as good as other people and violence against them was totally justified.

Then I stopped researching for the day and went to take a shower.

It absolutely horrified me that in 2014 there are people who think some people are better than other people just because of the colour of their skin or the god(s) they worship or don’t worship. For a milder example, I would probably not get to be president of the United States because I am an atheist.

Also because I am English (and female, but I think we’re getting there on that one. Slowly).

Eventually I gave up, and it’s not something I want to research again. Sometimes it would be easier to bury my head in the sand completely.

It's a threeway! ...tie for gaming victory

Kjarl and I are quite the detectives

 

Currently reading:

Harry Potter y la Cámara Secreta by J K Rowling

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

The Magic in the Weaving by Tamora Pierce

The Story of the Jews  by Simon Schama*

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen*

Sagittarius Whorl by Julian May

A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris

Completed since 12/3/2014 (62)

Snuff by Terry Pratchett*
Persuasion by Jane Austen*
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett*
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie*
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Message by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Predator by K A Applegate
For the Win by Cory Doctorow*
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett*
Animorphs: The Capture by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Stranger by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Alien by K A Applegate
Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Avengers Prime: Volume One by Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis*
I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin*
Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough*
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan*
Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga by Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns*
Pawn by Aimée Carter*
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen*
Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan*
A Dance With Dragons Part 2: After the Feast by George R R Martin*
Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan*
Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan*
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan*
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Hounded by Kevin Hearne*
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Shirley by Charlotte Brontë*
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
Hexed by Kevin Hearne*
Hammered by Kevin Hearne*
Tricked by Kevin Hearne*
The Great Cat Massacre: A History of Britain in 100 Mistakes by Gareth Rubin*
Bridget Jones’s Diary: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding*
United We Spy by Ally Carter
The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid*
Trapped by Kevin Hearne*
Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë*
Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
Sourcery by Terry Pratchett
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
Perseus Spur by Julian May
Hunted by Kevin Hearne*
Sisters by Barbara Mortimer*
The Martian by Andy Weir*
“I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.”

Orion Arm by Julian May
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch*
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë*

*First read

Busy going nowhere

17 Sep

Everything is very frustrating and up in the air these days. I was playing lots of Star Wars: The Old Republic as a distraction but my main character is stuck because Sith Lords are hard to kill, so I got frustrated with that too.

As a result, I am reading voraciously. I have finished five books since Friday, and I currently am surrounded by the eight books I am reading at the moment. I’m trying to broaden my mind a bit, so I’ve broken into reading nonfiction, and I continue my slow crawl through the classics section of the library. I’m still on Brontë, though Anne now. Why this was shelved after Charlotte is beyond me. Maybe Eastleigh Library alphabet is different to our English alphabet (Which I want to say is Hindu-Arabic but I think that’s our numeric system).

The stream of consciousness in this post is overflowing. I think I need to fetch sandbags.

Anyway, so I read a history book and now I’m reading one about nurses’ perspectives in World War II.

I’m also devouring geography quizzes and can now locate and name all the states of the US (in alphabetical order, forwards and backwards…it helps me sleep), and locate the countries of South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. My friends are getting used to being told things like ‘Eritrea is kinda shaped like a funnel’ and ‘Turkmenistan sorta looks like it’s on its way to eat Turkey, but Azerbaijan with its big nose is in the way’. They are thrilled.

I am enjoying the exciting process of being rejected for jobs that would challenge me AND jobs that I could do in my sleep. It’s a fun time. I wish I had known, when I stopped qualifying for Job Seekers Allowance, that I would still be unemployed four months later. I could have spent the time working on my own business and writing my novel instead of searching for jobs.

Anyway, I have excellent family and friends, and that’s something that should never be undervalued. I’ll be starting a marketing course on Monday, courtesy of Fairy, and I’m looking forward to it 🙂

Everybody proving equally matched at boardgames

It’s a four-way tie for second/last place!

 

Currently reading:

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce

Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

United We Spy by Ally Carter
‘”And…and…this is your fault.” He pointed in my direction. “You should have had the decency to die when we needed you to.”
“Sorry,” I admitted. “I’ve been going through a bit of a rebellious streak. I swear it’s almost over.”‘

Sisters by Barbara Mortimer*

The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid*

Trapped by Kevin Hearne*

Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
“‘We have all the bows, Ravelle!’
‘Well, damn,’ said Locke. ‘You must have raided the weapons lockers then. I suppose I was hoping we could have one of those pleasant dancing mutinies, or maybe a singing-and-card-games mutiny, you know?'”

Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë*

Completed since 12/3/2014 (45)

Snuff by Terry Pratchett*
Persuasion by Jane Austen*
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett*
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie*
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Message by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Predator by K A Applegate
For the Win by Cory Doctorow*
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett*
Animorphs: The Capture by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Stranger by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Alien by K A Applegate
Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
Avengers Prime: Volume One by Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis*
I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin*
Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough*
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan*
Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga by Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns*
Pawn by Aimée Carter*
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen*
Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan*
A Dance With Dragons Part 2: After the Feast by George R R Martin*
Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan*
Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan*
Mort by Terry Pratchett
Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian by Rick Riordan*
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Hounded by Kevin Hearne*
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
“‘You are very near death, Master Lamora,’ said Ibelius. ‘it is foolish for you to be larking about on deck in this weather.’
‘Ibelius,’ said Jean, ‘if what Locke is doing were larking about, corpses could get jobs as acrobats.’

Shirley by Charlotte Brontë*
Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
‘”You know,” I whispered, “some girls might think it’s creepy having a boy watch them sleep.”
He smirked and pointed to himself. “Spy.”
“Oh.” I nodded. “Right. So you’re a trained Peeping Tom.”
“Product of the best peeping academies in the country.”‘

Hexed by Kevin Hearne*
Hammered by Kevin Hearne*
Tricked by Kevin Hearne*
The Great Cat Massacre: A History of Britain in 100 Mistakes by Gareth Rubin*
“Singapore was supposed to be impregnable but, as a certain young mother from Bethlehem could tell you, impregnation can sometimes come from the most unexpected direction.”

Bridget Jones’s Diary: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding*

*First read

Timetabled Writing

19 May

In the last couple of weeks, my friend Nemmie has been coming round on Wednesday afternoons for a scheduled writing session. It’s actually been really productive for me – the first week I wrote the entire first draft of the story from my last post, and the second week I wrote the second and final thousand words for A Grave Situation, the story I wrote about in ‘Bitten by the Writing Bug’. Nemmie is becoming better at producing more words as well.

Hopefully we’ll be able to keep it up. It’s my fiance’s birthday this Wednesday, so rather than writing with Nemmie I shall be entertaining said fiance’s parents while lamenting not having the money to buy him a present or take him out somewhere nice.

Not to worry though, because in two weeks, courtesy of our amazing friends, we’re off to the Isle of Wight on holiday. This is very exciting, and I’m sure I shall chronicle the adventures of Six People and a Dog when I come back.

In the meantime, however, I’m working on the second draft of A Grave Situation, which is taking shape quite nicely as I transfer it from my notebook to my laptop. This is usually the stage where I try and add some detail, cut out the adverbs, and laugh at the spelling mistakes spawned by not paying attention.

For today though, I must focus on preparing for yet another job interview tomorrow.

Currently reading

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Animorphs: The Capture by K A Applegate

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Message by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Predator by K A Applegate

Inexplicable – Response to May Pictonaut Challenge

14 May

‘What now?’

‘Stretch your left leg up to your head, and grab your foot with your right hand.’

I looked at the valley far below me, aware of how uneven the rock was beneath my feet. ‘Why?’

‘You know why.’

Not entirely true, but I nodded anyway. I closed my eyes and took in a few deep breaths, pushing my fears out of my mind. I stretched my leg up and grasped the sole of my trainer with my right hand, pushing my left arm out to the side to keep my balance. I never expected my years of gymnastics training to bring me to this place.

I stood on a rock, maybe five feet across, balanced on the edge of a mountain. Far below me, mist coated a mountain lake, hiding the blue water with billowing white.

‘Good.’ The voice in my ear was male, amused.

‘How long do I have to stay like this?’ I asked him, trying to sound (and feel) calm.

‘As long as I say.’

I sighed and tried to block out everything else, focusing on keeping my core strong. The valley in front of me was very beautiful, with rugged mountains springing up around the edges of the lake, dusted with snow at the tops. I might even have enjoyed visiting there, but not even yoga is fun under duress.

I had an earpiece in, and at the other end was the man who had my sister.

Taking deep, even breaths, I tried to block out thoughts of Lily. She was 15, and all I had.

‘That’s enough.’

I jumped. So much for my inner peace. Stiff, I lowered my leg, giving it a little shake. I crouched on the rock, waiting for my next instruction. My fingers brushed the rough stone, cold against my skin.

‘You can go back down now. Stay at the Neptune Inn tonight. I’ll be in touch in the morning. Until then, we’ll be watching you.’

We? I fought the urge to ask out loud. Until that moment, I had thought my tormentor was working alone.

As I stuck my arms into my coat and gathered my climbing gear, my bones felt lined with lead. One person was bad enough, but with others I didn’t think I would ever find my sister alive.

***

I was dreaming of my parents when the phone rang the next morning. It wasn’t a nice dream; they were zombies, but it was good to see their faces anyway.

I flailed to find the phone, my legs tangled in the duvet, and found the handset at the same time as I fell out of bed. I brought the phone to my my ear, keeping the cacophony of swear words in my head to myself, and grunted ‘Hello?’ into the phone.

‘Good morning, Miss Grant.’ The caller was too cheerful to be legal. ‘This is Jenny at the front desk with your requested alarm call.’

‘I didn’t – ‘ I stopped myself. I didn’t order an alarm call, but maybe my tormentors did. ‘Thank you.’

‘No problem, Madam. Have a great day.’ She hung up.

‘Not gonna happen, kid.’ I got to my feet, assessing the damage as I kicked my legs free of the duvet. Aching muscles from the previous day’s mountaineering efforts, and a handful of forming bruises from my fall out of bed. This was not going to be a good day.

My last good day had been three weeks before. I’d had a decent time at work, and when I got home I found Lily had cooked us dinner. She’d been experimenting in the kitchen lately, becoming quite the little chef. The spaghetti had been delicious, and after dinner we’d watched one of our Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs while eating jelly babies.

The next day when I got home from work, Lily was gone.

There was an earpiece on the dining table, and a note saying to do everything I was told or Lily would die.

I never expected that what I would be told to do would be so ridiculous.

That first day, I had to stand in the middle of my home town, Greenford, handing out leaflets informing of the impending apocalypse.

I’d had to do a grocery shop, buying junk food and travelling everywhere by cartwheel without being kicked out of the shop.

I’d emptied my bank account travelling to different countries and performing meaningless tasks, and now I was in a British-style inn in Switzerland, longing to see my baby sister again.

I’d expected our tormentors to take my money for themselves, not force me to fritter it away on junk food and travel. I kept asking why, but the man I spoke to didn’t answer, just ordered me on with a smirk in his voice.

I lifted the hated earpiece from the bedside table and slipped it into my ear. It crackled to life.

‘Good morning, Dayna.’

I said nothing.

‘No need to be grumpy. This morning you’ll be getting the 11.05 train to Paris. Look for somebody you know on the train.’

‘I’m not sure I can afford the train fare. ‘ I whispered, throwing my clothes into my bag.

‘Sure you can. We’ve sorted out a loan for you. It’s in your account already. Gonna be a bitch to pay back though.’

‘Fine.’ I decided to leave my new climbing gear behind, as I couldn’t carry it as well as my necessary things. Maybe the hotel would send it on for me. I checked my watch; I still had plenty of time for breakfast before my train.

***

I stood in a line of impatient commuters, surrounded by the smell of cigarettes and leather briefcases and coffee, slowly boarding the train.

‘Who exactly am I looking for?’ I whispered, mindful of the eyes and ears around me.

‘What was that, Dayna?’

‘Who am I looking for?’ I replied, out loud this time. Someone behind me started muttering in French about the crazy English.

‘You’ll see.’

***

I walked the whole way to the back of the train, peering into strange face after strange face. When I ran out of train I turned back, knowing that I hadn’t checked the front two carriages as I’d doubted whoever it was I was looking for would spring to paying First Class.

At the very front of the train, I spotted something so familiar that my throat closed.

‘Lily?’ Her blonde hair curtained her face, her forehead pressed to the dirty window. She was alone, and fast asleep.

I dropped to my knees in front of her, ignoring the new bruises I was sure to be collecting and throwing my bag aside.

‘Lily,’ I took her by the elbows and shook her. ‘Monster, wake up.’

She didn’t stir. My shaking dislodged a piece of paper from her lap, which fluttered to the floor. I picked it up, hands shaking, and unfolded it. It read:

‘She’s fine. You’ll never know why we did this, but you deserved it. Tell anyone and it happens again.’

I screwed up the paper, rough edges cutting into my palms, and hauled myself into the seat next to my sister. Crying, I pulled the sleeping teenager into my arms, and watched the Swiss countryside roll by until I drifted into sleep.

This story was written for The Rogue Verbumancer’s May Pictonaut Challenge, and is probably not the positive, happy story he expected. The picture prompt was this image:

Creative writing challenge image

 

(Also, I stole Princess Burlap‘s name, because I’m a thief like that. Her dog says I have to pay royalties, but I won’t be obeying)

Lazy Farmers

8 May Carcasonne

Sunday saw another gathering of my friends for the purpose of playing games. It started out as a plan to play tennis on Monday and somehow became a plan to play board games on Sunday. We made plans with just over an hour to spare, so commenced a spree of showering and getting dressed. My friends are like-minded, hence three of us being in pajamas at 1.30 in the afternoon.

We kicked the afternoon off with cookies, crisps, and a game of Shadows Over Camelot. Shadows is a nifty game because you play together against the game itself. This was only our second game, so we’re still taking it pretty easy on ourselves – we tell each other what cards we’ve got, and we haven’t introduced a traitor into the mix yet.

It took us maybe 20 minutes to go back over the rules. The first time we played it took about 45 minutes to read the rules, and we were still a little confused, so make sure you leave plenty of time the first time you play.

It’s an excellent game – we found the Holy Grail, retrieved Excalibur from Avalon, did…something with Lancelot’s armour, got defeated by the Black Knight, and kicked some Pict butt, all the while fighting the siege engines gathering around the walls of Camelot.

Shadows Over Camelot

Shadows Over Camelot

We then moved on to playing Carcassonne, which is a game where you build the board as you play. On your turn you place a tile, and then use little wooden people, called ‘Meeple’ to collect points.

Knights stand on cities, robbers stand on roads, and Meeple become farmers by lying down in fields. Because that’s what farmers do.

To quote Kjarl, after one of his Meeple fell down: “Can’t stand! Too lazy! Must…become…farmer!”

There’s an odd sort of psychology to how people keep their playing pieces when not in use:

meeple

 

Carcasonne

A very tidy game of Carcasonne

Our first game resulted in a very tidy map, and I won! It was very exciting. I like to win. A little more than I’m proud of.

Pride comes before a fall, as they say, and my fall was in our second game of Carcasonne, where I dramatically came last. Fairlake took the lead by one or two spaces, with Kjarl and Orphen right behind, and Fairy and I way, way back.

We moved onto playing Settlers of Catan, and the game was pretty even most of the way through, then all of a sudden Fairy had a bunch of cities. We carried on battling for some time, but then Fairy built a road, took the longest road card, gained two victory points, and won.

The thing is, she wasn’t actually just trying for the longest road. In her own words: “I want to make it long but also have something come out of it.”

There may have been some giggling. Some very mature giggling.

So, here are the scores on the doors:

Kjarl needs to up his game

Kjarl needs to up his game

The next time I post will be a short story I’ve written with a picture prompt; I’ll link back and stuff at the bottom.

Currently reading

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate

Information Overload

3 May

The past few weeks, as I barrel towards six months of being unemployed, have been very difficult, as I’ve been hit by a spot of depression and weird sleeping habits. We also interred the ashes of my sister in law a week ago, which was very difficult for my fiance and his family and me.

As searching for work has become painfully routine, I’ve found that my head constantly wants to be learning new things. This week I’ve memorised the locations of all 50 US states and made a start on learning the locations of all the European countries. I’ve also got times tables memorised up to about 12 x 24.

I’ve been working on social media marketing for my mum’s jewellery, and the combination of this and the memorising stuff sort of lead to a HEADSPLOSION that really stopped me from sleeping earlier this week.

I’ve managed to knock out another few hundred words of my short story, and have made a start on my copywriting portfolio. I attended an interview in Bournemouth on Monday, which seemed to go okay, although I was a little spacey.

Basically, so many things floating around in my head that my head is not in a happy place.

I have made progress on reading things though!

Currently reading

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Animorphs: The Encounter by K A Applegate

The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
‘Rincewind had been generally reckoned by his tutors to be a natural wizard in the same way that fish are natural mountaineers’ 

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie
Terrier by Tamora Pierce
Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate
Animorphs: The Visitor by K A Applegate
‘Love is pretty important. It’s like wearing a suit of armor. It makes you strong.’

Bitten by the Writing Bug

24 Apr
Greyfriars Bobby by Kirsty Hall on Flickr

My new short story revolves around a grave. Not actually Greyfriars Bobby’s grave though. My dead person is human.

For the last few weeks I’ve been struggling to get myself to even try to go to sleep. I’ve had a pretty set routine since I lost my job back in November, and on week nights I go to bed at 10 and turn the lights out at 11. But at the moment I’m struggling to get myself to turn the light out before midnight, and twice this week I’ve been awake after 2 am. It’s not ideal, as the structured bedtime allows me to get up at a reasonable time and get lots of stuff done.

Last night I meant to go to sleep at 11 but since I only went up to bed at 11.15 that plan was scuppered. So I read Castle fanfiction for a bit (shut up) and then tried to persuade myself to turn the light out, failed, and carried on reading. At about 12.15 I was almost ready to go to sleep, but suddenly got hit with a burst of inspiration for a short story.

I was conflicted. I did want to sleep, but would the story wait? I put a little note on my phone, but I didn’t think I could capture everything in my head from a one sentence note. After about two minutes staring at my phone and dithering, I got up, grabbed my writing notebook from downstairs, and took it to bed with me.

So I ended up writing 800 words, and deducting it from my ‘working’ time today so I could have a lie in. I’m pretty sure I can finish and polish it pretty quickly, so I need to be on the lookout for the right place to publish it when I’m done.

It’s kind of a murder mystery. I’m not sure who the killer is yet. I’m sure I’ll be surprised when I figure it out.

Sometimes I wonder if mystery writers always know who the killer is when they start, or do they let the characters speak for themselves in the first draft and add in the foreshadowing and things later?

In my novel, I’m not entirely sure what the bad guys are and how the good guys are going to win, or even if they are. I have my whole world laid out and my characters are real people in my head, but I just have no idea how it’s going to end. I have no idea if this is a normal creative process or not. Anyone have any thoughts?

Currently reading

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust by George R R Martin

Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J K Rowling

Animorphs: The Invasion by K A Applegate

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Completed since 12/3/2014

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

Persuasion by Jane Austen

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie

Setbacks

4 Feb

So, I hoped to do quite a lot of writing this week. I made good progress through to Wednesday, despite feeling somewhat lurgy-ish. I managed to get another 1000 words done, which was awesome. Sadly, my lurgy grew to a Super Lurgy of Doom, culminating in me going home sick Thursday morning and throwing up Thursday evening.

My concentration and co-ordination are off – this can especially be seen  when I play Halo as my average score in Slayer has dropped from 16 to 3 (I dealt with this enormous setback by mostly playing Assassins Creed II instead).

So, yes, no writing. On the plus side, I now know where my novel is going next, and I’ve also chosen a short story to do that I started writing in 2009 and forgot about, but found in my most recent writing notebook while I was writing on Wednesday evening. It could possibly fit into Dark Tales, so that opens up another competition with a reasonable deadline.

For the moment, I’ll be needing to focus on getting better, then packing to go on holiday and then move. Hopefully by Sunday I might be able to try writing again.

Novel First Draft

13006 Words
START
END

Competitions

1 Feb

As I stated a few days ago, I’d really like to enter at least a couple of competitions this year. So where do I start? Google’s always a good bet for just about anything (except ‘where did I put the TV remote?’ – you’re on your own with that one) so I typed in ‘writing competitions UK 2011’ and found this rather excellent site with a list of competitions. A quick look over has given me the following possibilities:
Writers’ Forum

I know from my creative writing course-mates that Writers’ Forum has quite a decent reputation. They have a new competition every month, with decent prizes – £300, £15o and £100. The problem with writing contests is that they tend to have an entry fee. This one is £6, which I can easily afford if I’m only entering two competitions per year. This one’s quite a strong possibility – there’s no set genre, so I could write whatever I like.

 

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook

The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook is the essential guide to getting published. It contains publishers details, editors details, and tips from published writers. You should really update it every year but my one is from 2009 – sadly it’s not a cheap book. Anyway, they have a competition too, but I’d say it’s pretty much impossible at the moment – the submission deadline is the 14th of January, and I don’t have much time. I’m supposed to be packing to a) go on holiday, and b) move. I also appear to be coming down with a cold. This sucks, because the prize money’s awesome.* It also has a week’s residential writing course as a prize.

Cazart

I don’t know much about these guys. They seem more of an online creative writing community to me than competition based, and the entry fee is around a third of the possible winnings by the looks of things. If I was writing solely for the love of it, I would enter this, but as it is I really would like wider recognition as a writer and also money.*

Challenge Writing

I would actually love to enter this one. the prizes are good and the entry fee goes to a charity that I would support, Women for Women. I am therefore a bit gutted that it closes on the 11th of February – I definitely won’t have time to produce a decent story before then. Hopefully this one will come round again next year, and I’ll be able to hop on board.


I guess that leaves me with the Writers’ Forum competition, unless anybody else knows of any other competitions? Any suggestions on what I could write about?

 

*It does come across in this post that I’m fixated on money. This is mostly because I am very poor and require money to put food in the mouths of my hungry fish (and my fiancé and me, but hey).


Inspirations – Terry Pratchett

30 Jan

When considering what has shaped me as a writer, I always start at Terry Pratchett (see little fact sheet at the end).

When I was a kid, my older brothers used to read Terry Pratchett nonstop. I picked up Hogfather when I was about ten, read a couple of chapters and stopped as it was all a bit over my head (my head standing not that high from the ground at the time. I decided that Terry Pratchett was boring, which just goes to show how wrong a snooty ten-year-old can be.

A couple of years later, I unwrapped Jingo on Christmas morning. After I dutifully thanked my grandmother she said ‘Oh. That was for Mattie.’ This did not stop me from keeping it. Or reading it. It was still partly over my head, but I loved it. From that point I read most of the Watch books in a completely random order – Men at Arms, Guards! Guards!, Feet of Clay and so on before breaking into the Witches – Wyrd Sisters, Maskerade, Witches Abroad and to date have read nearly all his books. I will confess that some, such as Moving Pictures, I started but never finished.

Pratchett’s combination of humour and depth has always intrigued me. As he has developed as a writer his books have become more serious but his characters, I feel, have become more compelling. His development of Commander Vimes from a drunkard to a loving father and political figure has been beautifully done, turning a small, broken man into something spectacular.  I also particularly love Granny Weatherwax the witch and Angua, the werewolf serving in the Ankh Morpork City Watch.

I do not expect there to be many more Terry Pratchett novels, and this is an enormous loss to the science fiction genre and to the world. I really recommend everybody reads at least one Discworld book in their lifetime – a standalone like Monstrous Regiment perhaps, or Men at Arms – I think that one is a good place to start.

 

Sir Terry Pratchett was born in 1948 and is a prominent fantasy writer and humanist. He has written in the region of 56 novels, lives in England, and really likes fedora hats. He was diagnosed with a rare form of Early Onset Alzheimer’s in 2007, and has since been an enormous supporter of Alzheimer’s research, and has also expressed support for assisted suicide/euthanasia.