Monday, 26 April 2010

How long can you actually hold your breath? NEAR EDGWARE

I'm a little over-excited. This is not good. I'm sitting here doing the Mutley  (how I love that dog - if real dogs were more like Mutley I'd own a kennel full). I want to project talented author-in-waiting, but chortling may not be the way to go. Opinion?


I got a second e-mail today. When I saw who it was from, I screwed up my eyes so tight I almost missed reading the key words (short e-mails and light envelopes do not normally contain good news) but this was good news. Sally says:  Thank you so much for sending us your full manuscript. I would just like to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and have recommended it to Eve White. Having passed it on to her, Eve will be in touch with you within a couple of weeks.   

: D  : D  : D
Have I mentioned how incredibly talented everyone at Eve White Literary Agent are? Definitely worth mentioning again. 

Minnow: Beta Reader, daughter, huge influence (big head, messy room - don't often get the opportunity to list her qualities) says the first part of her fees are coming due - the Starbuck's tariff - who'd have thought her memory could be so good?!

Good news!

What has made you smile, or chuckle, lately? 

Sunday, 25 April 2010

What colour is your book?

No, this question is not only directed at those of you who are already sitting on the top of the tree called published. This  question grew from the very earliest days of planning NEAR EDGWARE, from the time before the book even had a true name.

Picture the scene:
I jog out of Jazzercise, all enthused, one Saturday morning. Pausing beside my car I think, "What shall I write a book about?"
Or, I stagger down the steps of the class, trailing my hand weights behind me, prop myself against the back of the car and think: "What do I know well enough to write a book about?"

It was October, the new term/school year was already under way, autumn was in full swing and it was raining.
With  "You have to write what you know" going around in my head I began to drive. Technically, I was supposed to be driving home. However, I was a bit distracted by the list of things I know well enough to write books about. ;)
Next time I paid attention I realised I had driven the route to my daughter's school, I'd turned right instead of left at the lights, almost as soon as I'd left my class. I had pulled into her school drive to spin around and head back home when I looked - properly - at the stretch of woodland opposite the school. Oh, I knew it was there, everyday when I dropped the Minnow off I reminded her she was forbidden to wait at the bus stop by the woods - she must walk up to the main road - because you never knew what was in there.
Suddenly the rain stopped, sunlight illuminated the woodland bathing the red and brown leaves in golden light. I got out of the car - on autopilot - crossed to the steps leading down to the trees. Slipping through mud, the soft soil made my steps whisper silent. I was yards from the road but miles from anywhere.
Surrounded by majestic trees, jewel bright in the sunlight, I raised my arms. Awed by the beauty, I closed my eyes, the glow was pure orange.
Unfortunately, a sudden snap shocked me back to reality: the man with the black Labrador grinned, and I saw my book.

I have just finished Shiver (where some elements - and not the obvious one - were bizarrely like my own) but it wasn't the inside I coveted, it was the cover I ached to own. I pictured a brown tree standing in orange and gold and it was NEAR EDGWARE, the cover I didn't know I wanted until I superimposed my colours onto the book in my hand.

NEAR EDGWARE is orange and gold.
Each book that follows - has a title, outline, purpose and colour.

Can you see your work-in-progress in colour too?

Thursday, 22 April 2010


Guilt? I'm up to my neck in it already and now I've found one more reason to add to the angst: every time I turn on my computer I'm adding to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But, I like the atmosphere - next to family and friends it is one of my absolute favourite things - how could I be so thoughtless?

I need to do something about my footprints, they're making a mess on the lush-life carpet surface - volcanic ash notwithstanding - of my planet. If visitors to my house treated my new (might I say, rather beautiful) carpets this badly I'd be mighty ticked-off yet I'm clod-hopping around my rather larger home. My carpets are insured, can't suppose the world would be quite that easy to find a replacement for! 

It seems there are panaceas available for the kind of guilt I'm feeling: there are projects around I could get involved in, supporting wind farms and  solar parks. That way I could contribute to keeping the great out doors, well, great. Also, the kind people at kaufda promised to plant a tree so I could turn my computer on with a clear conscience - phew! (They maybe better plant a few more than one.)

The trees will be planted by the Arbor Day Foundation - in Plumas' ? - fantastic.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Write like you mean it?

Brian Clark verses Ernest Hemingway? In the ring? Testosterone permeating the pre-match build up? They'd be well-matched. Maybe, not in the toe-to-toe, eye-to-eye, no holds barred, gladiatorial contest. They are evenly matched, if stylistically different, when they offer advice about how to write well:

Brian has distilled it, from sheaf to sheet of paper:

1.      Write.
2.      Write more.
3.      Write even more.
4.      Write even more than that.
5.      Write when you don’t want to.
6.      Write when you do.
7.      Write when you have something to say.
8.      Write when you don’t.
9.      Write every day.
10.  Keep writing.

Ernest Hemingway – really believed short and positive was the way to go:

1. Use short sentences
2. Use short first paragraphs.
3. Use vigorous English.
4. Be positive, not negative.

I like these sage pieces of advice, together they sum up what, when and how I want to write.

Which set of rules would you pin up over your work space to inspire you while you write?

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The hand that helps?

Flower’s family was small; if you were going to join the dots to make their family circle it was a line that went from A to B: Leah and her Flower.
When fifteen-year-old Flower’s mum died on the way home from work her Social Worker, Janice, had to cast a very wide net to find anyone who could take her in. Foster parent Jo, who cared and is caring still has to prepare Flower for a new life.

“Flower?” said Jo. “It’s time to meet your uncle. Remember he is ‘Great’ after all.”
She’d used the joke before.
Jo reached for my hand. The sheer force of will, the belief, in her calm brown eyes had me reaching up to clasp her hand before I had considered making a choice. Neither of us looked at Janice who was not holding her breath or paying attention to us at all.
Jo towed me over to the other, uncomfortable visitor who sat centrally on the sofa. His large feet were covered in sandals – sandals and socks – then there were jeans on legs that ranged up and then still up – long legs, constrained by the coffee table. A cream knit cardigan with lumps and ropes, my eyes swirling I followed a loop – held in the track – until I reached the head crowning this figure. He had a long face with lots of forehead – the baldness added to the effect – a craggy, pensive, mobile face where emotions chased in quick succession and the deep blue eyes. White curls rebelled at the edges of his close cropped hair.
“Flower? This is your Great Uncle Will, your Mum’s Uncle Will.”
And I felt it fall, that detached piece of heart I’d prepared earlier because she’d said the two little words I could hardly bare when put together.
“O-oh!” I breathed.
“Hello,” the deep voice whispered, “I’m here for you.”
I checked the creases and seams where his sandals clasped his socks tight.
 “Flower? We don’t have to do this now.”
But, really, we did.

The hand that holds ours, when the task is impossible to undertake alone, could belong to many people. Do you have a special someone you hold onto when things are difficult?

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Eight? I'm nearly at 100!

Dizzy with the realisation that with just eight more Followers I'd hit the magic 100, I wanted to post how pleased I am people stop by to read my  thoughts about life and writing - not necessarily in that order. And I am thrilled.

I went looking for an image which summed up how I felt about the journey to writing. I found so much more than that. Richard St John is obviously a very wise man: he identified eight traits that lead to success.If you love this image as much as I do you'll be glad to know free downloadable images, in a range of formats, are available on Richard's Blog.

Whenever I'm presented with rules I like to look for the greatest amongst them, I have really struggled to pick just one of these traits as the greatest. After an internal monolgue I'm glad I don't have to type up, I selected Passion as my premier trait. I love reading - thought the power of the written word could not be surpassed - then I discovered the thrill of creating worlds and people to inhabit them, writing is my passion.

Which of these eight traits, which could lead to the great success of becoming a published author, do you believe is your greatest strength?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Wheezerdly Wednesday!

Oh dear! I tried some of my best excuses but it looks like my luck ran out!

Monday, 12 April 2010


Expectations often define us: the pressure applied by others.

As you make - or, I usually describe it, take - time to write, do you feel you are underachieving, succeeding or exceeding expectations?

Is there anything else? The unspoken ambition lurking in the corner of your mind, the something you have always wanted to do? One possible answer is fairly obvious, but don't let that define you either, is there anything else?

From the moment I turned down the altar boy, passed the A levels and went to university I've been exceeding expectations. Apart from becoming a published author I would like to make a make a difference - I discovered, the hard way, that I don't have the skills to cure Autism so I would want to make a difference in how people perceive this developmental, learning and communication difficulty. (When the full list of ways this condition affects individuals is described you can see why others find Autism hard to deal with.)

Those who feel the breath of sadness - sit down next to me

Those who find they're touched by madness  - sit down next to me

Those who find themselves ridiculous - sit down next to me

Love, in fear, in hate, in tears - sit down


Saturday, 10 April 2010


I wasn't going to do it: I was going to write, write and then write some more. I only started reading a few little Blogs, to have a rest from the relentless typing ; ) then I caught the bug - I just had to post. =\ oops!
Thanks to  the  Anne Riley MURDER Blogfest  I got happily sidetracked!


The boards of the old house still whispered, protesting the presence of someone inside. Nerysa’s extra sense, honed by her years as a Navy Seal kicked in. Her left eye narrowed. She gazed at the house as if it were part of the conspiracy: deliberately withholding the identity of the enemy she knew was inside. Her nose creased with disgust at the incompetency she had just benefitted from.

The right side of her mouth pulled up into a grin without humour. This smelled rotten. She knew the worst Seal who’d ever made it all the way through training. She wouldn’t put it past him to be the only killer who still waited for her inside the house, keeping her dead mother company. Fish was just the kind of creep who would have killed the bleached out, alcohol-pickled woman. Hell, Fish would have enjoyed doing it. Not because he believed he could hurt Nerysa by killing her mother. Love was not something Eugene Fish understood. No, he’d just do it because she shared Nerysa’s name. But Fish wouldn’t find many other Na-gah Nuwuvi around: her Paiute father had no family except her and he’d died too young... too young to give her much sense of her Indian heritage. But he gave her the name teachers couldn’t pronounce and watching them squirm trying to force their tongues around it had given her the first taste of power; power is in the details.

The sound of laughter, which started small but built to a pitch that was just a little too high and wild, rumbled from the depths of her one-time home, “Nah Nah Nooh? Yoohoo!”

Fish, it would seem, was madder than ever – mad as a fish.

“Let’s you and I settle this properly: man to man?”

“I think we should have at it woman to woman.”

Nerysa kept low and didn’t make the mistake of moving from the shadow that had lengthened to include an area in front of the old shed. She couldn’t control the sneer that curled her lip as she watched Fish approach the screen door… low... his gun moving with his eyes as he scanned the area at the back of the house. It would be so easy just to take the shot, but where was the closure in that? Fish had killed her mother. She wanted to kill him, not shoot him.

“How’s Ma?”

“Oh, she’s good. Good as gold,” he returned. “She’s just catching a little shut-eye in the front room. I shut them for her.”

Nerysa felt the desire to explode into action and rip his head from his body. However, she’d worked hard to get away from her mother and had no desire to be joinin’ her in that other place – wherever it was – anytime soon. She hurt. The pain she had felt at the thought of her mother being dead was nothing compared to how she felt hearing Fish boast about killing her. So, Nerysa laughed. She laughed at Fish. She knew he’d be able to locate her position and that was good. It would bring him to her all the sooner. She was rewarded when she heard the screen door crash back against the wall.

Fish’s heavy booted feet covered the porch in one bound on his way towards her. He was big and strong but denser than Kevlar. He roared as he approached. He moved much too fast and flailed his arms wildly.

Nerysa smiled as she jumped to her feet, but that was just for his benefit: overconfidence never won any battles. She timed her roll and the scything leg kick to perfection. His momentum sent him sprawling forward. Nerysa had time to land a solid punch to the back of his kidney to help him on his way. He growled as he scrambled back towards his feet. He launched himself like a grizzly bear, Fish tried be the weapon... to throw himself at his smaller, lighter opponent. He had left nothing to protect his neck and jaw. Nerysa made sure that her fists were fast and deadly. It wasn’t until her third blow in succession she realised it was already “lights out” for Eugene Fish. He was toppling - to his knees and then less than flat on his back -  to the ground behind him. He’d be killing no more mothers, or little children, today – or, ever again.

Now, it's back to work? No, back to Blog reading. =)

FIRST PAGE - so, what am I actually working on?


Upon the death of the Wisest Wise, the first child born within each of the four trading clans will be raised and trained apart until the leader is, once again, revealed. Nesh, Kir, Rhi and Dija learn through trials and competitions while they wait for fate to make the pronouncement. But when destiny is written in the stars, some claw dirt-deep to furrow a different future.

Amri’s hands shook as he drew the oil lamp back from grey lips. His fingers encircled light and desperation, the acrid scent of each an assault on all his senses. Clan Fiu’s fortunes were eroding with the swell of Amafu’s tide but, although the arrow tip of flame no longer danced to the rasp and wheeze, he had not departed to sail the rivers beyond the seas. Amri stumbled as he left the dais; the pride of Fiu rose and its honour drained to sand. His hand, deep within the folds of his wilath, could not crush the vial there, the vile essence of the deed was rooted too deeply.

The hand Amri extended, pulled Amafu's doctor in. For six shine Caleth had cherished the life of Amafu, Wisest Wise.

Robes of white flustered as he hurried; the physician closed rank and distance, “Lord?”

“Caleth, now is the time.”

The wives of long dead sons stood closest with their arms clasped over straining lungs, knuckles whitened; the weight of  knowledge bent their backs as their tears fell in crystal respect.

Caleth’s eyes widened, his lips blanched, “Too soon, Lord.”

Amri straightened his spine as he narrowed his eyes, “The stars have aligned to deny Clan Fiu continuity of service? Due two moons late?”

“Lord, I beg you think of the child.”

“I think of the Clan.”

Caleth rounded his shoulders as sickness welled within him.

“Do this and bounty will rain upon you.” But the finger’s holding the vial thrust it into his heart. They scrapped, clawed, as if to gain entry.

Caleth bowed, his eyes locked upon the inky, crystal bottle which contained a clear, odourless liquid and the blackest of intents: the child would live or die, but it would be born that night expunged from it’s mother’s womb, too soon. The pity of it was if the child were born living and lived, it still might not be soon enough.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Diary of an Expat-teen

GEORGETOWN, Hot Guyana - not NEAR EDGWARE at the moment.

Diary and me... like company, only not.

This is April and I’m revising.

Really, would that be revising... for a change?

Me and revision ?


I’m not getting enough done. Chats to Ben and my girls are taking all the time I’m not spending with my trainer.

Manly, Masoud has been pushing me – he wants me to fly not run – but short distances, fast? That’s not me. I only feel like flying when the distance is long and I forget I’m on a machine with the air-conditioning making my hair stream out behind me, lol. I’m going to get it cut. Break Dad’s heart, again. Great. But it is so in the way!

Today – day 7 into the holiday – I’ve discovered I have to do something about learning enough to pass exams and everything. It’s important now because Mum said we may as well move home. Dad thinks everything is sorted at work: the situation no longer applies. So, we can move home!!!!!!!

Now work avoidance has been a bad, bad idea because Ife was going on about how Woodford College won’t take some students into the Sixth Form. They’ve been given targets to meet or it’s out on your feet. There are other schools in this locality and you may apply yourselves there if you do not wish to apply yourself here; I’m loving the Head teacher's little chat.

I made a timetable – good revision strategy.

I divided my life into 2 hour long blocks between 09:00 and 22:00 with an hour off for lunch and another off for dinner. That works out as 2 sessions in the morning-ish, then eat and watch-up on some TV, fast. Then two sessions in the afternoon and eat with parents if they're in, and available, followed by one more session before I’m allowed down to the gym.

I’m going to do subjects and stuff first block, Art until lunch – artist’s studies – back to other subjects for the next block with more coursework Art before dinner and lastly a bit more Art - the artwork I like. With my new plan running from today I might get all my Art done if not my running. I think I should have done more ART, already.

It’s not too late to do LOADS of work and get As with decorations, if I have A* everything no Headteacher's not going to want me.

I’m going to go back to Salters’ School, Woodford – Woodford School ,Woodford – Woodford College ; they made it sounds almost as grand as here; don't things change?!

Count down:
April, now; home in September – 5 months?! That’s a life time away; I’ll be my own grandkids by then. 167 days. : (  Could be worse; I want to go home.

How is my French sounding to you? I’ll go do some then.


Monday, 5 April 2010

An Esoteric Moveable Feast?

Words - two words have been plaguing me all day. They've been gnawing so loudly even Lady Gaga's Paparazzi on full volume hasn't been able to drive them back. Tidally moving, but not straying far has been the phrase moveable feast.

Easter is migratory, I know that. It wanders about causing timetabelling and educational difficulties. The shortest Spring term I remember was eight weeks and the longest nearly sixteen, so Easter is, clearly, moveable and feast-like.

I have not spent time thinking about Easter, people can do that in anyway personal to them, but I have had the phrase moveable feast doing the cha-cha-slide in my head.

They are both powerful and emotive words for me: ripples from the deepest, darkest place.


Memories; on one of the Blogs I read during Kelly's First Page Blogfest one writer suggested she remembered her first birthday and this sparked the whole train of thought: does a person know the events that took place during their first year? I moved countries. Having a frail, premature brother born soon after my first birthday? I don't remember his arrival but I'd bet my subconscious does. Fifth of eight, I'd say Moveable should have been my middle name. The three, and a half, who were older kept me moving on (educationally, socially and physically) while the younger three also had reasons for needing. So, moveable - Id not recommend.


The wonder of smells so tempting you'd risk nasal blisters to get your head close enough to draw them deep long before the food reached the table, and before it was truly safe to attempt it. Every meal has a feast's air of panic and military precision when cooking for large numbers: steaming bowls, bread by the loaf and the need to get in quick before it's all gone. The anticipation, the tacky-fingered, chin-encrusted, hard-stomach of enjoyment: the only sight that reminds me of how this felt would be good-natured puppies heading for their food bowl.

Ernest Hemingway describes Paris as  "A Moveable Feast" devoured and yet always with you not matter where you go. I'd have to go with Childhood. When I yelled, what do you think of when you hear the phrase moveable feast? - my Minnow, prosaically, went with Macky D.
I'll relish reading what you think of when you hear - moveable feast

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Me and Dickens we're like that -x- FLOWER PAGE 2



The sick feeling, an over-extended balloon of despair, stretched in my stomach. Worst of all the tears leaked. They wet my face and hurt my cheeks though I tried to squeeze hard enough to hold them back. I could hear the banging on the wall, again.

"Cheers... babe.”

I took the doll, this was the quickest way back to solitude and it made her feel better. But Hannah wriggled inside the curtain beside me, I forced an eye to open when another kind of head began rub at my arm. For the first time in 17 days I remembered I could smile.

The peel of the doorbell chime took away even that.

“That’ll be the door,” said Jo.

I stared at her but no power on earth was powerful enough to make me look at the door. If you don’t look then you don’t see, and if you don’t see then it isn’t so - and I wouldn’t have to start my new life again.

“He’s early,” Jo made her way past the things standing neatly in a row, but her head remained turned toward where I sat, almost hidden, by the floor length curtain, “that’s a good sign.”

With her hand on the door, and without a word being said she begged me to believe. Believe it could be alright, believe he really wanted me, and believe I might not, literally, die.

But how could that be when I’d seen the suitcase and the lilac folder balanced on top of my jacket. So, how was it going to be alright? I didn’t even feel it could be alright here, just 20 minutes from the house that wasn’t really mine anymore? How could it be better when I’d be 20 hours further away from it by tomorrow?

But life went on. For 17 days I'd been learning that fact. Your parent can go out and life goes on – they don’t come back and life goes on – services and cemeteries, and fairy cakes and wills and still life goes on. How that was happening was the most bizarre thing.

Friday, 2 April 2010


Kelly Lyman is hosting her FIRST PAGE BLOGFEST today. I couldn't decide which first page I wanted to go with. Whenever I'm in that situation I reach for the first book I ever started. It's a comfort thing: me and Flower BFFE ;)

I didn't have to look too far because last night I took Flower's tragedy and turned it into a real horror - my apologies to Flower because she has enough trouble as it is.



The tiny torrents raged down the pane until they puddled on the deep, white sill. Not the dribbling dot-to-dot now, the constant streams fought the elements: they were blown sideways by the breeze. I tracked the movement of one rivulet with my index finger, prodded and hoped to stop, to have any affect on the running flood with about as much success as I'd had with everything else, lately. With the distraction of walking washed away I'd have to wait in the house with the fosters, not literally The Fosters, just the family who'd been doing their best while I'd been doing my worst.

"We could still go out for a walk," Jo said. She was close, but not touching.

With the splattering at the window, the whilstling through the crack at the base of the patio door, the wind-driven, black-stained clouds slashing rain, I would have.

Amy and Hannah, lying by the TV banging the heads of lilac dressed dolls with their biroed, facial tattoos, became unnaturally still.

"No. Thanks."

Waves of relief rolled from the mini pop-moguls, they went back to organising the less-than-live auditions.

Well, not long now, Flower." Jo patted at my arm before she straightened up and returned to the kitchen.

Moments later I felt a little plastic head rubbing the same spot.

"Flower?" Hannah was making the ultimate sacrifice, "Do ya' wan' my doll?"

Jo leaned against the kitchen counter, as I watched she smiled - adoration and pride - and the razorblade of loss slashed another wound into my heart. I pushed my back into the edge of the wall and grated my spine to balance the pain, replace it with an ache much easier to deal with.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The Alternative Version Blogfest: FICTION SLASH HORROR

See? Holidays and competitions, a perfect combination. Livia Blackburne is hosting this Blogfest over on her Blog
I have had fun trying to keep to the spirit of the original but to capture a very different feel.


"We could... go out for a walk?"

Splattering at the window, whistling through the crack at the base of the patio door, the black stained clouds slashed down rain.

Amy and Hannah - lying by the TV banging the heads of lilac dressed dolls with their biroed, facial tattoos - became unnaturally still.

"No, thanks."

Waves of relief rolled from the other end of the room as the mini pop-moguls continued their less than live auditions.

"Well, not long now, Fower."

Jo patted my arm before she straightened up and headed for the kitchen.

Moments later, I felt a little plastic head rubbing my arm in the exact same place.


"We - could - go - out, for a walk."

Rain slashed from black, stained clouds.

There was splattering against the window. Whistling through the crack at the base of the patio door.

Amy and Hannah lay beside the TV, unnaturally still - the heads of lilac dressed dolls with their biroed facial tattoos.

"No! Thanks."

Waves of relief rolled.

From the other end of the room the mini pop moguls continued their less-than-live auditions.

"Well. Not long now, Flower."

Jo patted at my arm. She straightened up. Headed for the kitchen, moments later.

I felt a little plastic head, rubbing my arm in the exact same spot.

I recommend this exercise to anyone, I recommend any exercise to anyone. ;)