Wednesday, 26 May 2010

In the darkest times

Touched by tragedy - unexpected and extreme - these are days of reflection and questions.

I write poetry  in times of crisis but my thoughts were spiralling rather than rippling.

Years chunk in termly increments:

Not racing,
timely intervals
were measured and routine.
Each step forward marked in 
landmarks and milestones,
Mine and the many.
The pathway deviated: 
the motorway momentum
not to winding ways, 
laybys and passing places
nor to dead ends.
Winding up. 
Track made travels trace 
their passage by eye-line. 

The days of ease and simplicity 
are now shrouded in the daze of 
the harsh unevery day light of

The cry in crisis.


Sunday, 23 May 2010

NEAR EDGWARE page 1.96

I need a medal for knowing this is the ninety-sixth time I have played with the first page of my novel. It is, however, only the second largest alteration. Originally, I wrote from the moment Jess got home from the airport. 
After she arrived the night before, I lead her by the hand as she tried to get her place back in her old school... no longer Salters' School, now, the re-named, Woodford College.


I scanned the first floor Sixth Form Common Room, there were soft brown chairs clustered around low tables to the right and rows of dull grey lockers on the left.
Students dressed in office-smart fashions were standing around in groups. Right at the back near an open window, three boys were talking. Their heads were so close together they were almost touching. Standing there like that, they looked quite similar. The various shades of blond reminded me of the colour selection charts at the hairdressers. The boy whose back was towards me had just a hint spikes and tufts in the back of his hair, so cute.  
He glanced around – forehead furrowed, eyes narrowed – he pushed his brothers further back into the room; there wasn’t much further they could go.
Maybe, not so cute after all; I looked around but I couldn’t see any reason why they had moved to the edge of the last window. It didn’t matter that much, I knew where I was going next.
Four pupils stood in the centre of the room. They were close enough for me to hear what they were saying.
 “Another new girl?” remarked Anna, paying more attention to my tailored trousers and two-tone, heeled shoes. “She looks fashionable, but subdued.”
“Starting a week late for term? Bad news. We’ll see if she sorts out a friend. Check she’s alright,” Ali mumbled sucking on her short, blond plait.
Subdued? That was not really on my top ten list of qualities. It would have trouble getting onto the top hundred. Stepping away from the shadowed corridor, I threw myself forward arms wide to reach around them all. 

What do you think? 
It's priorities are right, Jess just wants to hang out with her friends, run, have fun and do a little school work, if her parents really make her.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Bryan's Logline/Hook Line Blogfest

Bryan is holding a competition: it is a Logline/Hook Line Blogfest.

This has to be the perfect way to end my day. I'm feeling in need of a little fun after my emotional roller coaster ride of a week.

I couldn't decide what to post for my logline/hook so I've posted two for the price of one. These are the hooks for both of my finished novels:

Jess’ gut-wrenching attraction drives her to track each shred of evidence until  Caleb’s genetic make-up – his dual form -  is revealed; she chooses to fight with the pack in the war being fought between those born human and the Were, risking more than her life to rescue the traumatised Caleb and bring him back to her love.

Jon Jacob Ashton used to have family now he has nothing between him and a very effective assassin but the hacker his father had arrested, the forger his mother saved from a beating on the Champs Elysées and the body guard who shot out the tyres on the family limo when she didn't get a job interview: if they get lost and stay lost, he might get to live.

OK! Now I'm off on a whistle stop tour of the Blog-o-sphere to read all the other hooks or loglines posted.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

What's a girl supposed to do?

So: not waiting. 

Breathing has been restored as my default reaction when about to answer the phone or open my e-mail account. Worrying, wondering and daydreaming have been shelved.

I can’t say I feel bigger, stronger or tougher in response to the experience but I haven’t been mortally wounded either: determination and belief are intact. 

What is a girl supposed to do with a rejection letter? I’m not about to use it printed/pleated/sculpted - copied multiple times - to create a piece of statement modern art: noose, flagellation whip or red-carpet full length, halter-topped, told-you-so, flock frock. 

Nor am I off to bitch about how that rejection thingy was, like, right out of order! Cos, like, it came on an off-white background with black lettering and that "no-Daz?-like-I-feel-so-sorry-for-you" white teamed with black is so last-year!

The e-letter was the single most useful critique I have ever received: advice about how NEAR EDGWARE could be improved; and the reason why Eve decided not to add it to her portfolio.

I began by celebrating the strengths. Then started unpicking the text in search of sections in need of clarity – Clarity? Clarity? Has anyone seen Clarity anywhere I think I might have lost it (and I think you, Dear Reader, are probably agreeing round about now) – page one received its 94th re-edit!  Don’t you think it’s super I've been keeping track of this statistic?

I wrote a submission while my partner bought the chocolate.

Many thanks to Eve White and her team – Sally Popplewell, so close to perfect it hurts. 

Monday, 17 May 2010


Fairy God Mother?


You’ve come to grant me wishes, but only if they’re real? Let me think this through:
I wish I could do everything better the first time through. Imagine the time I’d save, the endless sucking on the pencil which really can’t be good.

I wish on-line supermarket shopping was as fast and efficient as it seems to be right up to the moment you begin to wade through the catalogue pages. Think if I had the freezer space for the multipack offers that sound like such good value for money if only my other house was a larder.

I wish every door in my house closed properly and that the stripped-pine original fixtures didn’t come with detachable handles and more screw holes than Swiss cheese. Imagine my house without the clunk of kitchen door against frame.

I wish pounds spent on chocolate didn’t, quite as closely, correlate to pounds gained. No need to follow that thought anywhere but to the gym.

I wish I had time, enough time to appreciate the passing of time. Imagine feeling you were the perfect partner/parent/employee/housekeeper/gardener and writer rather than, at best, an overstrained Stretch Armstrong and, at worst, torn with the rack-acute pangs of guilt.

I wish I could read every book that catches my eye in the book shop, the ones I stroke while craning to read enough information to entice but not to induce a buying-rage need. Imagine being able to immerse yourself in the words and worlds without the nagging thought there is something else you should be doing.

I wish I was paid to do the things I love the most. Imagine being paid to write. This spectre’s chills are seismic quakes.

But, if I really am limited and I have to narrow down to two, then I’d have to wish for global peace and a cure for autism.

Are you sure you don’t have just one more wish going spare? I have an idea how I’d use it. I might wish for a literary agent. Just the one, I'm not greedy. Apart from needing the extra wish of course ;) 


Thursday, 13 May 2010

I'm patient? How about you?

I’m patient. I don’t want to hurry: that way leads to navy shoes with black trousers and doorjambs co-ordinating with black eyes! I’m patient. First drafts are not last drafts: they are riddled with overwriting and over enthusiastic telling. I’m patient. I want to take the time and do this right
Plan B (apart from penning some mighty "toons") would look bad – hurry, hurry; fast, fast – stalkerishness with an “are we nearly there, yet?” flavour. Patience is the key.
I've gone past the feeling I have to waste time, I don’t want to prevaricate or procrastinate. I’ve even stopped hitting refresh on the email and sitting so close to the phone its imprint is a new form of facial decoration.
I’m patient. 
I sound patient, don’t I? Good. Don’t want to let any spare im-s in.

How are you feeling at the moment?

Monday, 10 May 2010


I want to write, but I don't just want to write random words on a page. Whether the page is milled smooth or backlit, I need to write. But the balance of work, life and writing isn't rolling like a bottle on the table of the pirate schooner on the high seas or cornering like a learner driver. My writing is on a slowest but spin-iest of cycles: Ferris wheel crazy. For a roller coaster fan - the archaic shake rattle and roll variety or the velocity of  ultra-new shiny version - I'm scared of the Ferris wheel. I think it's the rush and hover, the crazy shakes, the dip into the dangerous and the hanging around. Writing, to me, is a Ferris Wheel ride - fast or slow: an adrenaline rush.

There many things that make a difference to the way I work - and the number of times I have to revise my writing at the end. When writing time is limited these are the things I intend to achieve everyday:

  • Drink - dehydration messes with my head 
  • Plan (downscaled to the section I intend to complete) - it cuts down on the amount of time I need to stop and think 
  • Write
  • Stop working - the pain in the neck is real problem
  • Set the next writing target
  • Don't let writing targets drag me down
  • Keep the visualisation of the scene in mind 
  • Learn from others
  • Help someone 
  • Write
This is my daily evaluation list/mantra. If I've achieved every one of the things on my list it has been a very good day. 

Do you set daily targets to work towards?

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Forgetting to dream?

"Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing." Melinda Haynes

I don't tend to start posts with a quote. But if the Twitter #Haikuchallenge word is dry and crispy I have been known to look for inspiration amongst the quotations of the rich and the writerly. 

The quote above turned up on Twitter and it made me pause and think. Only minutes earlier I'd been replying to a message from a friend who mentioned he still collected vinyl. My head was full of the rainbow diffracted light of a CD disc, doughnut-like on the end of a finger. I was swamped by the physical memory of holding large, black discs and fingering the sharp edge: a heavy and intense feeling. The memory was in arms that recalled the feeling of cold and smooth and fingers that tingled with the bite of the edge and the fingerprint whorls. My recollection at cerebral memory level lagged way behind.

I don't think I could take Melinda Haynes advice. I could not forget the rules: I worked too hard to learn them. I couldn't forget the goal to be published. Celebrating writing: no problem; writing for myself: I do that too. But, forget about being published? Nah!

Could you forget the driving and enjoy the scenery? Would you want to forget about being published and just celebrate writing?

I love the sign for "forget" - even in wiping away the thought, the fist shows ownership of the action and the desire to hold onto the thought in case it is needed later!

Thursday, 6 May 2010


I'm sitting here, after completing two books in full: I'm in the middle of a mind-blowing experience because of the most random cosmic collision. Three events happened simultaneously: the first was something my partner said, the second was a line of lyric and the third was a line of text I was reading when I heard the two sets of words:

He who-must-not-be-named was talking:
"Why don't you do something different?"

I was playing Muse:
 "...your time is running out"

 reading a Stephenie Meyer interview
  "...if I can write a book anyone can"      

I announced I was writing a book before I'd ever opened a word document.

If I'm ever asked why I decided to write I think I should lie - I could just blame Muse.

But I'm asking the question anyway: What made you decide to write?

Monday, 3 May 2010

Spreading the awe

Elana Johnson who writes YA sci-fi and fantasy has begun to spread awe - awe and wonder is - awesome and wonderful? - no, it's a great idea.

The book and author I'd like to nominate is Ender's Shadow and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.

I read the books in this order; this is not the correct one - however, the mature writing in Shadow meant I had Bean adopted and made mine long before I got passed the end of page 5. The saga, too me, was whole and complete and I had no idea Game existed until I read the (lets face it who reads them) author's post. Have to admit I never read anything that comes before the title of  "Chapter 1" :)

The books merge when Bean and Ender are both at the Academy together - they become two views of the same story as it unfolds. I enjoyed one book and I adored the other. I'm glad I read both - I learned a lot about how the writer's skills develop over time.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Lilah's Last Line Blogfest

Lilah is hosting a Blogfest: she is celebrating the end. Putting the carefully crafted page one away, she has chosen to turn the spotlight on the limping-over-the-last-line final words of our wips. I was happy to oblige even though it meant I actually had to consider what might happen at the end of FLOWER.
I considered and the clock ticked on, odd how it does that, so here you go:

Flower was fifteen when her Mum died in a car accident. She didn't take it well. Her Mother's Uncle, Great Uncle Will, was the only relative who could take her in. He took her to the Isle of Mull where he was investigating eagles for the Scottish National Trust and Durham University.

       The car rocked as Uncle Will hurried to catch the ferry and the tide. Every vibration and jolt travelled from temple to core. The tracks of my tears mirrored every imperfection in the road.  
     We had said good bye, every day for days, but I still looked. It was dawn, the sun floated like an iceberg out at sea but I couldn’t stop myself from looking... looking for the white cottage in the bowl of the hill.
     There was no light coming from Edward’s room; the blind at the window slept.
     We passed the end of the lane and headed down towards the port. I counted the gates. Counted down until I’d be out. The last gate was a blow. This gate was black and blue: Edward’s hair resting on his blue jacket.
     “Unc Will?”
     He pulled over. “We don’t have much time.”
     I scrabbled at the handle, Edward didn’t move: not when I opened the door, not when the gravel protested under my boots.
     I’d never touched him – hit him, but never touched him. The wind blew his hair before my fingers followed to stir the silky strands.
     He woke fast. He caught my fingers when I tried to pull away.
     “Didn’t want to miss you.”
     “Egg? Edward, I’m... sorry.”
     “Message me? Write. Something?”
     The bruises were fading but there was a new hurt in his eyes, “Who else could I talk to?”
     “Talk to Will. Let him help.”  I glanced back to the cottage. “Yes. I’ll talk to them too.”
     Me and Egg – Picasso souls. I squeezed his fingers; the impatient revving had reached formula one pitch.
     “I’ll call tomorrow...”
     “That’ll do.”
     He smiled. He made me smile. 

That was fun. I knew what was due to happen but as Flower is sitting on a bed in Kendal she is some way off ending her story.