Monday 21 March 2016


Since my very determined decision to work on my characters a lot has happened.  For one I forgot to blog.  For another spring sprung right at us and I found out I literally have no sunshine in my life. Well, when I say literally I mean apparently and when I say no sunshine I mean not enough.  But it's the same thing.

I am still struggling to fully commit to any writing project.  Whether this is because I just don't believe in my ability to write (90% of the time), the fact that I never seem to have any free time (97.5% of the time) or because I just don't like the projects in my pipeline and I don't have the gumption to tell the pipeline.  How will you know if you don't like the project if you never actually start working on it?  I scream that to myself regularly.  Especially when the other half is busy tap tap tapping away on his story.  Nothing like a productive person to sap your creative thought process. Love you hon.

Now to spring.  Well.  I have seen the odd daff here and there and I have to admit I was very excited to discover crocii at the local park a couple of weeks ago but the weather really can't seem to make its mind up.  Either that or my body is going through several bouts of menopause all at the same time. It's chilly so I grab a coat and then the instant I start walking down the street I feel like I've invented the first ever portable sauna and I have to de-coat.  That gets many odd looks.  People with 17 layers on and two bobble hats think I'm completely mental as well as cruel to children as my incredibly hot blooded son isn't wearing 27 layers and a parka.  As for bobble hats.....he won't even wear one long enough for me to take an amusing photo.

Finally, it turns out I have a vitamin D deficiency.  Sounds like lots of fun.  Just go sit in the sun.  But it has to be the right kind of wavelength sunshine and you have to have plenty of calcium to absorb it. And not too much fat to soak it up and prevent the calcium from getting to it.  Ooops.  So it really is crucial to get that beach body ready.

Thursday 17 March 2016

Character Interview

Now that I've decided to, finally, bite the bullet and call myself a writer, it occurred to me that it was probably worthwhile reading about the craft.  I have been given a list of books to read, all of which I am sure are excellent and I feel quite confident that any fellow writers reading this will have ones of their own to add.  But, I have decided to start with the Open University's free taster course on writing fiction which looks at characterisation.

I'm about half way through, resisting the activities because I never was very fond of putting effort into homework however I have realised that I am very lazy.  More so than you might think.  I didn't really think about my characters at all.  They just sort of appeared as the book wrote itself.  I didn't question their arrival, I just pulled up a chair for them and baked some more cake.  Eventually I wrote a one page of bullet points, in large letters, for each of the four female main characters.  It was an extremely useful exercise but I'm not sure it was really enough.

The competition feedback I received, whilst mostly positive, commented on the difficulty in telling the four women apart.  All the incredibly polite, encouraging, yet negative responses I've had from literary agents have basically said the agent failed to connect with my characters.  Now that might be their standard email template but I'm beginning to think that I should have done more, I should have worked harder on getting to know my characters.

'They' say that your first novel is the one you learn the most from and even thought The Gaia Effect is finished I would say that we are probably only on the second draft.  The first was editing the crap out of it in order to make it presentable for the competition.  I almost felt like I could never read it again. Now I'm thinking it's time to interview my characters in depth and physically build the world they live in.  If I can't do that then I can't say with confidence that I did my best.  I know the writing is good, it's just the craft that needs improvement.

Monday 14 March 2016

Pint of milk and a stabbing

This afternoon, while the sun shone above in a blue sky without a care in the world, my little man and I walked home from the shops.  As our attention was caught by a great deal of shouting, a silver car drove up onto the pavement. The car had all three passenger doors open.  How odd I thought.  The driver, a surly looking chunk of a man gave me a rather belligerent stare.  I stopped to allow him to take up all my pavement, ushering my little man over to the far side and walking slowly past.

Suddenly three skinny youths ran out of a yard.  Hoods up, strings pulled, caps down low. They barreled into the car.  That explains the doors I thought.  The car reversed sharply without any consideration for the traffic coming along on either side of the road and exited.

Another young man burst out of the yard.  He ran back in.  He ran out again looking highly agitated. He ran back in and started to reverse a car out of the yard then stopped and disappeared again.  A van came past slowly just as the man ran out again.  He waved wildly and shouted.  Help.  Help.  I need help.  He opened the van door and began to beg.  My mate's been stabbed.  You've got to take him. He's bleeding out.

A car driver had stopped as commotion was forming.  The young man continued to beg.  Someone please, help me pick him up.  Then he ran back in.  Car man and van man followed.  I crossed the road cautiously not quite believing what I'd just witnessed.  More shouting. What road is this?  Does anyone know what road this is?  I didn't.

Just as I got my phone out to try and help I saw the ambulance.  Traffic was backed up on both sides due to abandoned vehicles but I was confident they would get through.  I saw the lady who worked in the shop, in her car, with her family.  I motioned for her to wind her window.  There's been a stabbing I said, not quite believing my own words.  You might want to turn around.  Not you might want to rush in there and help but you might want to go a different way so as not to delay your journey any further.

I got home just as the air ambulance landed in the field across from our flat.

What struck me the most from the experience - apart from my lack of action reaction - is how ordinary the four men looked.  How sunny the afternoon was.  How none of the youths looked like they'd just stabbed someone.  They looked like teenagers running away from writing clean me on the back of a dirty van.  A little bit guilty but highly amused by it all.  Had someone really been stabbed while my son and I stood a road away?  In broad daylight?  On a Monday?

I shook a little as I gave my statement over the phone.  I didn't know how much help I would be, after all I couldn't remember many useful details.  After I'd finished trembling, I sobbed briefly involuntarily and then I felt a little bit sick.  I hope he made it.

Saturday 12 March 2016

Guilty Pleasure

I may or may not have many guilty pleasures but the one I am prepared to share with you is my love for the Discovery Channel and before you say, yes I know, Shark Week - let me open your eyes. There is much much more to the Discovery Channel than sharks.

It all started with a pregnancy that wouldn't let me sleep and then a small wee person who enjoyed 4am feeds.  That's when we discovered Deadliest Catch.  Now you may indeed have watched the odd episode but we have weathered several seasons with the king crab fishermen of Dutch Harbour. We've watched Wild Bill have rotten luck with greenhorns, Jake Anderson make it to Captain his own boat, Sig and Edgar sharing responsibilities (a teeny tiny bit lol) and Josh Harris sit on his butt smoking.  That man really doesn't appear to know the meaning of hard work.  And that's not even the full complement of unique characters that pepper the show.  Together with Mike Rowe's earnest narration we ride every wave and gasp at every deck wipeout.

Image result for deadliest catch

We then moved on to Auction Hunters.  Now there are other shows of a similar nature - Storage Wars and Storage Hunters but despite their bizarre cast of bidders they don't quite match up to Ton and Allen who scour America in their beat up bread van attending auctions and vying for that unique item.  They once sold back some original graffiti artwork to the artist Risk for $60,000!

Image result for auction hunters painting

After that we got sucked into the world of Parker Schnabel, Tod 'Fricking' Hoffman and originally Dakota Fred & Dustin who in later seasons morphed into Tony Beets - the viking gold king of the Klondike.  Yes, that's right - a TV show about gold mining.  Don't knock it till you've tried it - that stuff is addictive!  

Image result for gold rush discovery

Why are these reality TV shows so addictive?  Is it because they bear absolutely no relation to our lives and are therefore seen as something exotic?  Or perhaps, and more likely, there are characters we love to hate, those we root for to succeed and those we secretly admire and wish we were more like.  And these are real people.  Yes, they probably ham it up for the cameras and yes I'm sure there is some expert editing going on to make selective traits more obvious but oddly that's all part of the charm.  We care about these people and what happens to them, we deride them when they make mistakes and we sit in our armchairs shaking our heads at the ridiculous situations they find themselves in.  If you're me you also argue with the cutting floor when they get the time lines are screwy which happens more often than I'd like. 

The problem with watching these shows is that you begin to think others on the same channel will be just as absorbing and enjoyable.

            Image result for snake island tv  Image result for running wild with bear grylls

Image result for fast and loud   Image result for lizard lick towing

You're not wrong.  My only hope is that some day my characters will be just as addictive.