Wednesday 30 December 2009

Near Edgware

The Ridgways are triplets - identical, as far as the world-at-large is concerned - but Jess just doesn't see them that way.

The brothers were in the Common Room. Raphael worked on a low table. Alex lounged with his feet a little too close to his brother’s work. Caleb was moving the Common Room chairs into place and lining them up. Who said it was hard to tell the brothers apart? It was strange to see them relaxed, without the secretive huddle they would switch to once the rest of the Sixth Form arrived. I stood completely still-didn't even breathe-but they each turned to look my way.

Why are they triplets? Because three is an odd number. I couldn't bear separating twins and leaving one on his own. Besides amongst the three brothers Caleb is the odd one out. The one with a different destiny. Caleb is different, flawed... and human.

Sunday 27 December 2009

Near Edgware

I made the notes to end the second Autumn term for Jess and Caleb, yesterday - during my i-tunes and Facebook heaven. The next stage, which I always knew was a kidnapping, crystalised for me as the notes turned the white page blue - an idea I am so excited about I can hardly wait to be given the opportunity to write it. It is the next page of the street map, it will make writing everything inbetween easier.

This time last year, I was feverishly trying to get Near Edgware completed - I was writing the scene that matches with the prologue. I stood in the woodland at dusk and walked out the route Jess has to run. The owl, who features strongly, turned up to give me heart failure, and had to be written in to the story.


Dark, clawing brambles shredded my skin. Gasping and shaking, I scrambled to higher ground at the top of the mound dragging shallow breaths into my aching, ice-scorched lungs. Time, like my energy, was running out and I still hadn't delivered the warning.
I’d come back home to enjoy hanging out with my friends. Instead, I’d spent time researching a little-known subculture and walking, make that running, into danger. Before being ripped apart and dying – if I was lucky – I had just about enough time to wonder if he was really worth all this.
I imagined myself in quieter - safer - alternate realities. In my head I agonised over the question but, in my heart I found the answer: the excitement of knowing - and being loved by him. I loved him. He made even this seem like the right place to be. I smiled and, even though he wasn’t there with me, I reached out my hand as if we could really touch.
The pain hadn’t started yet so, unless lacerations forced me to change my mind, I decided I’d stand by my choices. But, I took a deep breath and screamed.

Saturday 26 December 2009

Facebook and i-tunes

Could there be a more stressful way to spend the evening?
I wanted to edit STAYING LOST, but my new i-pod had other ideas.

I've thirsted for portable music since someone, and it can't have been me flattened the lead for my i-pod Shuffle. Santa obliged with a shiny purple i-pod Nano and I realised, since I got my new computer, I've been glued to Spotify. All my new playlists are locked in a non-portable format and I never got around to uploading any CDs onto this computer.

Remembering how long it took to put each CD into the disc drive and wait while it whirred through the process on the other computer, it has taken me days to start. I've worked through prevarication and done time wasting - JUST DO IT took on a whole new meaning.

Uploading music is meant to fill you full of joy, but, do you know how many CDs I own? No. Neither do I. But they are all going to be passing through my fingers so I'm going to know... somewhere in the next two days. Glum! The incessant whirring is calling warning me -- the next ping is due.

To celebrate this evening of repetitive strain, I decided to go the whole hog and set up my Facebook page. Any passing friends are more than welcome to click and join.

See you'all when, or if, I ever finish.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Writing Secrets - I'M IT !

Donna asked if I would be IT so I completed the task, but I don't know the rules for what comes after this. If you would like to be IT - to take up the challenge and answer the questions about your writing, please feel free to have a go. Let me know. I would love to read your responses too.

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

The section of Near Edgware where Jess, sure that something is very wrong, sets out to walk to Caleb's.
Flower preparing to move from fostercare - being handed over to her Great Uncle Will with the remains of her life in a suitcase and two plastic bags.

2. Write poetry?

If you count Haikus as poetry, then yes, daily.

3. Angsty poetry?

Deeply philosophical.

4. Favorite genre of writing?

Anything with emotion and action.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?

Jam - James - from Flower is deliberately annoying, but only to Flower herself.

6. Best Plot you've ever created?

The threads that run deep through Near Edgware.

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?

The one that is the undercurrent in Near Edgware.

8. How often do you get writer's block?

I don't get writer's block I get writer's writing crap and go back later to fix it!

9. Write fan fiction?

No clue what that is.

10. Do you type or write by hand?

When I am writing it is a computer for me, all the way - I don't even like to have to work on a laptop.
I do plan in a range of note books - pocket sized ones for when I go out - larger one when I'm plotting the book before I start - card indexes as I'm writing so I have all facts for each character etc at my finger tips.

11. Do you save everything you write?

Yes. In it's various formats as I'm working. Later versions often start with NEW or the date in the title.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

I write the starts of things as they come to me and shelve them. I don't abandon anything. I check in on them to make sure I could write them at a moments notice, if I had to.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?

Near Edgware. Having said that STAYING LOST is a favourite in a different way.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?

I share everything I write with as broad an audience as I can reach from day one. Everyone is different. My Writing Circle love Near Edgware.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

Near Edgware is YA supernatural romance :)

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?

Woodland settings in all kinds of weather and school.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?

One that is ready to actively seek representation for. One that was finished in November but is going through editing. Flower and Found'er.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?

No, but I've never entered anything.

19. What are your five favorite words?

“I want to represent you.” After I hear (read in an e-mail) those five, they’ll change to “I found you a publisher.” I stole this from Donna but it made me laugh and it is, in its own way, true.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?

Jess Trainer's Mum - but she doesn't get to do much except force the issue - in book one. She has, in the past, and will, in the future be much more proactive and centre stage.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters from?

The physical image of the characters come from the glitterati - I have strong images in my mind when I describe the way they look but their personalities are all their own. They have to be the kind of people who would act and do the things that are necessary for the plot.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?

I hardly ever dream - not ones I remember anyway. Only people who get enough sleep remember their dreams. When I'm in a writing fever I keep my note book by the bed because ideas form before I fall asleep and as I'm waking up. Very occassionally I have dreamed about my characters.

23. Do you favor happy endings?

Ultimately, yes. I like the promise of happiness to follow even better.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Yes and no. I need to get the story written and my fingers don't keep up with my brain. Thank goodness I can touch type or I would be soooo frustrated.

25. Does music help you write?

Is there a God in heaven?

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.

There were at least four people in the house and every one of them could hear the phone ringing, even if they were submerged in water or playing music in the attic. The nausea intensified. I tried Caleb’s house again. This time I counted the rings, and crossed my fingers, and hoped someone would pick up the phone. But it rang and rang, and no-one came.
I felt seriously sick and it had nothing to do with food or drink. Suddenly, I was very sure something was wrong. I couldn’t let my mind follow that thought further than the words. But, something was wrong.
Back in my bedroom I began to change into my running shoes and clothes. I caught sight of myself, in my black tracksuit and trainers, my pale face framed by dark hair my eyes strained and wide. I could run if I wanted to. I could run down the roads to The Old Bridle Way... to Grimm’s End... if I wanted to. I’d see Caleb and he’d laugh at me. Then we’d come back because everything there would be fine. They’d all just be busier than normal.

NEAR EDGWARE 21st December The Longest Night Just A Kiss

The Girl with One Eye and Dominique started me thinking about kisses.
I may be one day late for Just A Kiss on the 21st December but I couldn't resist posting Jess and Caleb's kiss from 21st December in NEAR EDGWARE.
I wanted to stop before the kiss because the build-up... is quite that. But, I guess I'd better let them kiss or they'll be waiting a while to get some lip action.

We stood in the glow of the Christmas decorations that shone out into the dark from the lobby of the pub and restaurant.
“Call me later?” Caleb’s warm breath moistened my ear and, as I shivered, his fingers traced the raised lines and bones from wrist to fingernail tips.
“Umm,” I agreed. I gazed into the warm, honey glow of his eyes, but his raised brow preoccupied me even more.
Caleb’s laughter vibrated through me as his arms surrounded me and he lifted me from the floor. My eyes were level with his and my distraction was complete, “Promise?”
The soft fabric of his dark school jacket gave way to the silkier strands of his hair as I moved both hands to cradle his head. I had lost the desire to speak. Action seemed, suddenly, very necessary. But Caleb’s lips thinned and drew back – his smile could not spread any wider. The tiny frown between his eyebrows spoiled the perfection. Leaning forward, to place my lips there and smooth it away, I caught the warning glint in his eye. My hands curled over his shoulders and gripped while he twirled us around.
Caleb, with the multi-coloured Christmas lights reflecting in his pale hair, was electrifying. I absorbed each sensation to complete the image: crisp cold air, pine from the tree, his warmth radiating from beneath the woollen coat. My senses were heightened, then he let me slide back down the length of his body to the floor. It took me a while remember I was trying to answer his question, “Promise what?”
“You’ll call me... when you get home?” He flushed. Cleared his throat, and shook his head before he started again, “What time do you think you’ll get home? When will you be able to call?”
“Sometime in the dull bit – before the patrol gets back.”
“Good,” he said kissing his way from eyebrow to eyebrow and then down my nose towards my mouth. I held my breath and waited... while he waited. Our nightly challenge – who would give in first and start the final kiss. I could feel the irresistible pull that meant that it was nearly always me who couldn’t hold out. I tried to enjoy the closeness, that was just one step from perfection. To move was to cheat but sometimes one, or both, of us resorted to that. My fingers on his chest itched to slide up, to cling to his neck or to trace the muscles under his open jacket.
My head swum and my lips curled into a smile of pleasure as I felt the non-Were tremble under my hands just before his lips connected with mine. I threw every ounce of pent-up frustration, he had worked to build, into my response.
“What’s another word for bliss?” his mouth moving over mine demanded, “I don’t want to wear out my word?”
“Not good enough – stars look cold.”
“Better, but...”
“Too much!” he said pulling back as the change vibrations became detectable.
“Too sensitive, by far,” I laughed and pushed my hands up his chest, along his neck, then over the faint roughness on his cheeks towards the silkiness of his hair.
With his nose on my neck I knew he was absorbing my scent, the way I collected images.
“I’ll call as soon as I can.”
He took two paces back without turning so his darkened amber eyes never left mine. I began to walk backwards to the door of the pub. I couldn’t take my eyes from his, until he raised an eyebrow and laughed. I turned to see the man waiting to pass through the door.
“Sorry,” I mumbled, watching as Caleb turned to run the short distance to the corner where his brothers and protectors waited. They'd tried to give him a little privacy, but probably failed.

Back to STAYING LOST - a very different kind of action there.

Monday 21 December 2009

Editing and having fun with words

I love editing: snipping, slicing and re-working the story until the essence is left to tell the tale - complete with L5 punctuation and vocabulary, of course. :)

The sounds in the world beyond were deadened by the rushing of blood, as Jon finally set off on his carefully paced out run towards the ball. He didn’t make it that far. His path was intercepted by the figure dressed in black leather. The motorbike had arrowed in on the far side of the rugby pitch where Jon, with his ash-blond hair, was a solitary and distinctive figure. He was the last person to know that the motorbike was about to arrive – fast and furious across the pitch. The first thing he felt was the shower of mud which, fountained up from the tyres as they spun on the soggy grass, rained down on him. Then, pain when a booted foot crashed into his knee. Lastly, the arm that reached around him, squeezing out his breath and hauling him off the floor. It was fair to say that he had noticed the motorbike by that point.

Sunday 20 December 2009

Snow Day and holidays

Less than two inches equals school closure? Only in England.
My last half day turned into a no-school snow day.
I was ready to hike to school in my arctic snow gear (the one and a half inches of snow looked chilly) when the text message made my phone buzz. School cancelled. Not so much with a bang as a whisper.
When I went whale watching in Tysfjord the snow was piled higher than my head. The last train couldn't run but the bus, with it's snowplough escort, had no problem getting there.
To quote the kids, who should have been at school on Friday morning, "I don't get it." Surely if the snow is lower than your ankles you should be able to go to school?

Oh, well ... more time for the re-edit: Staying Lost. I read Chapter one and two in its more polished format to the class on Thursday - the blood-thirsty crew were very - there - with Nerysa as she dealt with the ambush. Food for thought on chapter order. I keep reminding myself this is Jon's story.

I've also been making notes for Jess and Caleb - I saw a entire last chapter of one of the books being enacted in the snow yesterday so the non-whiteout was useful.

Now listening to JLS Beat Again - wish Amanda Jenssen was still playing her Christmas number - Spotify keeps showing me up ;)

Saturday 12 December 2009

Staying Lost ~ The happily before the ever after

Editing underway - phew

Now I just want to work out how to add images - not at the same thing as procrastination ;)

Tudor School was one of the most exclusive, private boarding schools in the south of England. It was the only educational facility that insisted prospective pupils had to be registered on the day of their birth. If parents, who could afford the kind of fees they charged, made two phone calls when their babies were born one of them was to the school’s Admission Secretary. It was the only way to guarantee that the child would be considered for a place. This was a school with a long history, a long waiting list and tradition.

Hoards of old Tudorians, in scarlet capes and soft Tudor hats, swelled the numbers who lined the pitch. Every ex-pupil for the last four hundred years had made it to the final game of the season, it seemed – except one. He promised he would get to the game no matter what came up at work but... well... Jon knew his Dad was a busy man.

Beefing up the bad guy

Abby Annis over on her blog asked about the bad guy. She is re-writing her WIP to introduce evil earlier in her work. She has been keeping the reasons for his less than caring nature under her hat. I started thinking about my two very different projects and the force of evil that affects the lives they meet.

Near Edgware

Evil is huge in the second installment of Jess and Caleb's lives. In Near Edgware it is the affects of psychotic evil that can be seen as first Jess and then Caleb and the pack are targeted. To use the spiked wolf collar showed his twisted genius for ironic torture.

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them."

I don't think anyone is ever ~ truly ~ all black or all white, checkered pasts produce checkered futures.

Meanwhile, aren't I doing well with the editing of Staying Lost ? Um

Thursday 10 December 2009

Procrastination and Books 2009




Not working - lots of that.

Not editing - just the newly finished SHINEY NaNoWriMo MG masterpiece awaiting polishing with a red-pen.

Not writing - apart from the haikus.

The ill-health-thing that my anti-biotics are busy blasting away is turning my brain to mush. What else could be getting in the way of any of the above or - God forbid - sleeping?

TWITTER and the multi faceted Bransford Blog.

I'm doomed!

I'm in charge of videoing the Y3/4 production of Hosanna Rock tomorrow - I can't even click the right button to make my Twitter link active apparently - can I claim it was black light problem?

Speaking of the Bransford Blog - I've only bought 3 books published in 2009 - MG all - :0 - the other hundred are older :s

Steve Feasey Changling - weretastic
Two from the Gladiator Boy series - which were... both from the Gladiator Boy series.

Sunday 6 December 2009

NaNo not writing - editing - STAYING LOST

Editing - taking words and polishing them until they paint a world


The crowds, who moments before had been shouting and dancing, froze. Then they began moving in unison; zombie-like they shuffled forward. Supporting the team. Supporting each other. A wall of black and red, the supporters leaned forward – closer – drawn towards the spot where he stood. Hands gripped at their scarves, imprisoning them so they could no longer whip around faces or away.
Jon smiled, it would take more than scarves to disturb him and spoil his aim. Nothing would be allowed to interrupt his preparations. He loosened his shoulders, swinging his arms. He began to pace backwards in a carefully controlled curve. Once he reached the place – the only square of grass that contained the exact spot to being his run up from – Jon held up his linked fists, and eyed the shot with care.
Along the line of his arms he saw the two men hurrying down from the castle keep – the main building of Tudor School. Jon recognised the Head Teacher, Mr Gray, even he was on his way to the rugby pitch. The second man was a little shorter than the headmaster. He looked vaguely familiar too. Jon couldn’t wait for either of them to get down to the field. Time was running out.
Jon blew out his breath, steady and controlled. Leaning into the heel of his back foot, he rocked a little as he prepared for his run up. His concentration was complete now. His eye was on the line, invisible to everyone else, that the ball must follow so he could make the kick successfully. Everything he had been taught to do was second nature. The seam on the ball was the most important thing in his universe at that moment.

Wrong shaped ball, but supporters are supporters no matter what the sport.
Football is my sport - I've been to over half the football grounds of England, Wales and Scotland. Maybe I should try to complete the list?

Go Man Utd - a good day for the Red Devils. I'm glad Scholes scored.

Saturday 5 December 2009

The new Harry Potter is worm called Annelid?

I love Come in Character <3 - it makes me think - it makes me think creatively!

I'm going to be obsessing over the perishing, little critter now...

In a hole in the ground there lived a....

pink, segmented worm who had taken streamlined to a place that was both streamy and liney - well, linear anyway. It had stripped down the kinds of extraneous, dangly pieces other life forms seemed to favour to the bare bones. (Pardon my worm humour I just thought you ought to know that Annelid was a highly evolved kind of critter.)

I could have some fun with this one.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Inspiration comes from

I've been thinking about inspiration rather than Muse (for a change) .

Last week, I wrote a haiku that I loved. It is one of the fastest poems ever written. It probably took less than two minutes from reading the #haikuchallenge word to posting it.

Why did the poem leap from brain to Twitter that quickly? I blame the buzz word *before. It cut through the thought processes to the place where inspiration lives and leapt out... Athene-style... fully formed.


Can't we go back to
the before that was our now?
This time get it right?

There was a line in a play - written for TV - I think by John Godber and Jane Thornton.

It is haunting: Can we not have before again?

It's not a long line of dialogue, as these things go, but it is one of the most important to me.

Where do you find inspiration?

Sunday 29 November 2009

What kind of writer are you?

OK - my hands are up - I admit it: I'm a research-geek kind of writer

I put the plan in planning:
1 plan to write - time allocated
2 plan the characters and setting - create photo wall and pen sketches in the working note book
3 plan the 14 to 20 chapters that will give me the story arc - depending on length/ target audience
4 plan the main events in bullet format - whole book (any sequal type information that occurs to me as I go along)

While I write? I have a card index for each character mentioned (main to merely visiting) which I add to while I'm going along. I hate continuity errors in things I read, see or (heaven forbid) write.

Name drop moment - an-author-of-my-acquaintance laughed at me (Thanks, Steve Feasey)

He inspired me to attempt to work slightly more off-the-cuff. I was light-headed at the thought; the desk I work at was less heavily ladened too.

Enter NaNoWriMo Challenge


I planned my character profiles - making sure I knew them from head to toe and inside out (including their preferred underware!)

Then I planned the start, middle and end - the desired outcomes for the book.

To increase my writer-ly skills (:-)) I decided to experiment with POV. While writing the book I alternated, one chapter at a time, writing from JJ's (public school boy)and Nerysa's (ex-navy SEAL, bodyguard) perspective.


Spending November writing from different points of view should help me write the complicated multi-layers of the non-ghost story I have planned. Adding space and time into the mix --- challenge much! Imagine how that looks in my planning format :)

Saturday 28 November 2009


NaNoWriMo - author!

Listening to Vampire Weekend
You've been checking on my facts
And I admit I have been lax
In double screening what I say
It wasn't funny anyway

Good job it wasn't a few seconds earlier or I'd have to admit to listening to Jay-Z :s

Now, apart fom the editing, I have finished my second novel oI< - does this look like I fell over backwards? That was what I was aiming for.

Written for the age 8/10 - 12 Middle Grade - so bang goes my chances of getting Nathan Bransford to represent it :) (I knew there had to be a downside of writing MG - I was going to say boys - but it has wider appeal than that.)

Jon Jacob Ashton used to have family; he used to have everything. 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 Elysee and the bodyguard 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.

Complete in 51,670 words

NaNoWriMo - so close to ending

NaNoWriMo - time is a ticking!
Listening to Sea Wolf - The Violet Hour:
In the dark you tell me of a flower
that only blooms in the violet hour

It isn't so much a violet hour as a pitch black one. I intend to finish during this 24 hour period so I have my Spotify playlist and endless cups of tea to supplement the chocolate supplied by the one who got more chocolate than a sweet shop for his birthday!


The boys ducked back out of line laughing. Their plan was so simple. They turned back to find the quicker way into Hyde Park. At the bottom of Tyburn Way was a corner - a narrow footpath that led to the public toilets. The fence was not much of a deterrent there. It was low and incomplete since the tree that had leaned over the metal railings had been removed before it could fall on some unsuspecting pedestrian.
Racing, chasing and overtaking,they dodged through parked cars and static traffic along the Tyburn Way. Jon didn't think of the others who had made their way along that route with less haste and a lot more trepidation hundreds of years before. The walk to Tyburn Tree had been slow and pained. Some had walked bravely; others, who were already broken, dragged out each step on their journey towards their executioner; Jon ran the route with joy – the kind that comes from unexpected freedom.

Thursday 26 November 2009

TWITTER does not run in school

The filter likes Blogs.

The writing I enjoy falls neatly into two, main, catagories: novel and poetical.

This week/term has been hard.

However, all things can be overcome with the support you receive from friends. I am glad that I work with Amanda. The Haiku says it all. Everyone should be so fortunate

You make a difference -
thoughts and genuine kindness -
small actions turned great.


Sunday 22 November 2009

So near and yet so far away

Word Count verified at 34,800

JJ finds himself at a very different kind of school

Tyburn Trees Junior still has an executioner - who has yet to learn the meaning of humane, although from the insults he uses he is aware of human - in its narrowest sense.

JJ has lost his father, his home, his school, his friends, his hair colour - he's trying to find out who he is. He is doing better at realising who he isn't.

“Who is he to tell us how to be?” Connor grumbled.
“Like, what’s with the bowing – like he’s some freaking prince or something.”
“Still, better him than that spaz Newt.”
“We’ll see. If Newt splats his nose off his face,” Bright thrust a fierce upper cut into the air as they walked, “I say we walk with his pack again.”
“I hate him though.”
“Better hating behind him, than having him hate us.”
“True. But it felt good - not being in Newt’s crew this morning.”
“Let’s see if Jonas comes back again tomorrow.”
“Bright... he has to live through today first.”

So, what's new?!

Saturday 21 November 2009

Piton perfect! Climbing the columns of NaNoWriMo shame!

Working hard to claw my way back on track - 4,000 + words so far to day - yeah!

JJ and Nerysa find the perfect place to hide out

In this genteel area of London, Connaught Close crouched behind its refined neighbours and lowered the tone. It was a rusted sliver of the old city surrounded by the silver of new money.
Jon walked into the dark that had nothing to do with the clouds that covered the moon. Even the street lights in Connaught Close seemed to shine less brightly. The rays were absorbed by the blackened stone walls that no one had sand blasted; although the neighbours would be happy to attempt it with a little dynamite.

Have a few more hours to work 30,300 currently

New beginnings and New Moon 'near Edgware'

I took time out to not write or work!! I think that's living life on the wild side!

Wandered over to Come in Character. Christine had posted an opening line that made me shudder. Not badly written, but so familiar that the original wanted to keep itself intact and warned me off even trying to mess with it - big boy on the playground style! We study Barrowquest - dull - and Eragon - the other thing - in Y6 during the Spring Term quest Unit. It took a long time, like minutes, for me to come up with something I wanted to say:

Wind howled through the night, carrying a scent that...

thrummed discordantly with warring notes: the essence of life and the odour of death delayed. The cloying perfume, bound jasmine and tearose, insinuated itself into nasal passages and choaked the throat with gagging cough. What need was there for sight when the fetid whiff whispered to the primative brain that now would be the time to run?

I keep seeing knee-high, a-moral, daemons!

Then my teen and I set off to see New Moon - last year I dragged her to T1 this year no dragging was necessary. The wolf animation was a-ma-zing!

"Is that how you see the Were?" my Minnow asked.

I guess the answer was yes - for Alex and Raphael - but, I didn't see Caleb's dignified, always cautious, control.

Near Edgware - on a friend's blog she asked about titles - Roni wrote 'what do you call your WIP?' I'm almost ashamed to admit that I have a working title, or two, but then there is the secret name too - the one that cannot be named or it will bring bad luck to the venture ;) See, I wrote a joke smile, so it can't be true :s

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Sur - Ma'am - real

Went to London - State Opening of Parliament - School Cabinet - the Queen waved at me and I mean that ... our eyes met, so I know - she waved - like you do when you're the queen, and I wanted to write.

I felt weird.

STAYING LOST End of Chapter 7

He lay still and breathed until he knew each rib that expanded and contracted to allow the air to enter and leave his body. He wanted to imagine himself six-foot tall and fighting fit... to be some kind of avenging whatever-in-a-cape dealing vengeance and retribution. Why was he not cruising the streets, armed and dangerous, in his mind; why was he not crushing enemies under foot? Where were those thoughts? Why could he not make them, form them into scenes of retaliation? Why was there only one question and no answers?

Counting, and watching the chill blue light from the torch flicker on the wall beside him, filled the space in his head. Jon lay: moving his toes in his boots; squirming in protest at the pressure building in his bladder; rubbing the emptiness that bloated his stomach; banging to relieve the woolly, aching, unreality in his head. He used anything... everything... to push the question back into the vacuum at the back of his mind.

It wouldn’t obey... it whispered when he counted but shouted when he breathed.

The noises outside his head faded, the rays that cut the dark flickered. Despair emerged from the dark until it crowded round Jon’s bed. The blue torchlight faltered again and was gone.

Then there was nothing between Jon and the question that tormented him.

He whispered over the sound of the silence, “Who am I?”

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Still Writing

Falling behind.
Not failing,
just trailing -
lagging behind,
losing the battle with time.

Wrote an assembly that wasn't even mine.
It's fine.

They're numbers not nooses.

Wednesday 11 November 2009


I have been meaning to write but this month has been crazy, I wanted to tell you that I loved the book and I was sad when I finished it so I read it again.

Monday 9 November 2009

Nanorimo update

I slaved this week: to keep the school work done and to make the NaNoWriMo count each day. I was forced to write until crazy hours to keep up. This Friday I marked as many things as possible, for hours on end. I cleared my lists and freed up time to write.

VERIFIED TOTAL: 15,435 Words
I've been playing with POV alternating between the correctly spoken public school boy: Jon Jacob Ashton and his ex-Navy SEAL bodyguard: Nerysa Na-gah Nuwuvi (Paiute).
I enjoyed researching legends to find a suitable hero that Nerysa could live up to; SEAL training; Gold BUD badges; watches suitable for diving at greater depths; gun performance with and without silencers;motorbikes;the correct desert cactu; ghost mining towns;the direction the sun sets in the one I selected to re-name;airfields suitable for International travel and a few other things!

Dust billowed behind the motorbike; it mushroomed high like an atomic cloud. It showed the world, or the 22 residents of Dry Creek anyway, that someone was coming – coming fast. Nerysa knew that this was not a covert arrival but that couldn’t be helped: her Mama was in trouble. She was one of the five people who mattered as far as Nerysa was concerned. She had called and Nerysa came.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Too tired to focus on the keyboard for more than .... zzz


I did my first piece of Beta Reading with my captive audience. Wouldn't let the class go home until they'd read part one of the book ;)

Nah! Four enthusiasts read it through for Guided Reading - AF1, AF2, AF3, AF4, AF5, AF6 and AF7 all in one thirty minute session. I did them a favour, really! They had the opportunity to question the author and have an input into how the story could have been improved to meet the needs of the target audience.

I added the sections they thought would help them. Apparently it is a great idea to be rescued, at high speed, from a rugby match but could I slow down, and write more detail when I was doing it: music to my ears!

Nanowrimo Word Count verified at 3,997 zzz

Monday 2 November 2009

A fairly uneventful day

So, what did you do today?

Today I took a good Maths plan provided by one of the County Advisory teams and uplevelled it - state-of-the-art not bit-of-a-state! Then, I began on the English planning.

Would you like to know about AFs (in each area of the core subjects)? Or how to build tasks to enable you to have all the data you need - from every lesson you teach - to make APP and PPMs a breeze? Nah, didn't think so!>) *spot the chuckle*
However, the offer is there. Look me up in the dictionary you'll find me there under Geek :)

Then I went to my first firework display of the year - Oh! Ah!

Finally I wrote for NaNoWriMo!! !! !

STAYING LOST by Aleanbh!

Verified number of words so far: 2,649 - and a graph that shows me ahead of target. I'm going to be a happy bunny right up to the moment my alarm goes off at 06:30 and says I have to get up for school.

I went to Borders to chat to Steve - who might be feeling a bit bored passing the time in between signing copies of his book - which they actually sell at my mecca. Who Steve? Writer Steve! Well known author the Changling series.

Steve says he can stay home all day and write now! Colour me green! I wanna do that.

I'd do that. I'd be good, and write heaps, and have to be reminded to pay attention to the changing seasons let alone the hours that pass each day. Oh shucks!

Congratualtions Steve Feasey. (He just does books for a living!)

Sunday 1 November 2009

NANOWRIMO - started at 00:20

by Aleanbh Lambert-Stynes :)

Ending up in hospital

Jon ran as if his life depended on it. His aching legs still obeyed his command to move... and move fast. His booted feet slid in the mud but he shifted his body weight until his movement was under control again. Sweat dripped from his short fringe and seeped into his eyes. He couldn’t reach to wipe the drops away so he blinked furiously to try to clear his vision. The wind blew refreshing air in at his open collar and, even as he shivered, he felt a rush of adrenalin that lightened his legs and the precious load he carried. Jon squinted into the setting sun and hoped no one else was there to block his way.

Muffled sounds registered as he ran: the loudest of these was his heart drumming wildly, and far too fast. Jon strained to isolate single sounds but the roar of his blood, as it pumped around his body, made everything else inaudible. He had to rely on his vision to give him the warning that he was going to be caught. He didn’t dare to turn his head to check what was happening behind. He focussed his eyes forward. He hoped they weren’t getting any closer but there was very little he could do even if they were there breathing down his neck. Until he felt the hairs there rising he would do nothing that might slow him down. So, he didn’t begin to deviate from his direct path. He didn’t weave or feint. He kept his eyes open and ran... ran straight and fast; there was no one who could help him now.

WORD COUNT: 654-ish editing :)

I keep thinking quantity, but my head is yelling quality louder.

Tuesday 27 October 2009


So much of the submission process is about first impressions and page one is the foot-in-the-door... the rest has to back it up with more than a good opening pitch but ...
I'm at home; it's the holidays: I work on chapter one ;-)
I want page one to tell you everything you need to know - does it do that?
CH 1
A few small differences

Dad parked in front of the white, stone entrance. Even there I could see that things had changed. On the new school crest there was a beast standing on two legs. It had sharp teeth, raised claws and it glared down at visitors to school.

I scanned the familiar, red brick building as I walked around the front of the car to join Dad, “That’s different.”

He put his hand on my shoulder as we stepped into the reception area. He pressed both the buzzer, and my arm, while we waited. The secretary wove between the desks towards us; her expression did not match the “Welcome to Woodford College” banner on the wall.

“Good Morning. I’m Simon Trainer, and this is my daughter, Jess. We’re here to see the Headteacher.”

She picked up a pen and tapped it on the diary date, “Mr McIntyre is in his office. I’ll let him know you’ve arrived. Please push the green button and I’ll let you in.”

We walked into the brown, tiled corridor and sat beside the office. I smoothed the fabric of my trousers over my knees. I tried to make sure that my toe tapping was invisible inside the shoes I forced to remain still.

“Mr McIntyre will see you now,” called the assistant as she approached.

Glancing at Dad, I caught the moment he narrowed his eyes and straightened his shoulders. His preparation for battle didn’t match his, "It’ll be fine."

We followed the secretary into the room dominated by a long, curved desk. Our view of the new Headteacher was limited to a glimpse of his mid-brown hair, and the jacket of a charcoal suit, as Mr McIntyre turned to reach into a low drawer in the filing cabinet behind his chair. He paused, drew a deep breath, before he swivelled back around.

National Novel Writing Month planning

To say that my plan for namowrimo is sketchy is grossly exaggerating the faint scrappings on my page. I have names, chapter titles and a concept.

I also have fifteen pages of notes for the novel I've decided not to write - plus a board full of images and a wordy opening paragraph; why would I want to write that project?

I don't even know if I'm writing MG or YA.

I can't quite pin down the genre - although action is the driver so, maybe, that would do.

No worries, then? 50,000 words in a month about some-thing-or-the-other? That sounds about right.

Today I entered some kind of regional word war... not quite sure if it is with, or against, the Irish fraternity across the water. I hope it is with them - against our trans-atlantic cousins, because, as my writing name suggests, I have strong Gaelic connections. It's going to be like when England play Eire at football... but without the fence to sit on!

Tuesday 20 October 2009

National Novel Writing Month - Aleanbh's writing the next one

Oh! No! Now, I've been-and-gone-and-done-it!

Swamped with work, to the point where I was having trouble remembering where my home computer was, I spent September producing absolutely nothing. This being the case I, obviously, decided to celebrate feeling that I had a little free time by deciding to enter the NaNo Challenge. I should have paid closer attention to the title: "Nah no" ... followed by... 'way' rather than "Wri Mo."

To celebrate this piece of lunacy, and the fact that some YA author has dibbed the name Smith and painted it all over my genre, I did a little psycho-analysis: I looked deep to find my alter ego and sent her forth to enter in my stead.

My earliest memories are of my father and cowboy movies. ( Now I come to think of it, perhaps both of these facts are linked!) Twice a day he would comb a wicked wave into his hair, and sing, whilst shaving. I was tiny, but I vividly remember him picking me up, from where I was jumping on the toilet seat (wise move) and sitting me on the cistern (less wise,) and singing to me. He had a beautiful tenor voice. He always sang the song "Eileen Aleanbh". It was my name... in full... to me.

I've had Dad on my mind a lot, recently.

I'm dedicating my writing month to his memory.

Dad wrote poetry five times a year: for my Mum's Birthday card, Christmas card, Valentine's card, Easter card and for their Wedding Anniversary card, too. He said that the rhymes he found in the shop-bought card never, quite, said what he wanted to say. He wrote his own poetry - with help from his little, then not so little, helpers. He'd gather us around the table and get us chip in rhymes or ideas if he was having trouble with his verse. Writing was a joy.

The cards stopped, just before St Patrick's Day, quite a while ago but Dad's love of learning (and poetry), which he instilled in me, certainly didn't.

I'm writing my November novel for PJD.

Sunday 18 October 2009

What to read?

This week I read two of Trudi Canavan's Black Magician Trilogy: which I loved.

The main character, Sonea, was intensely likeable; the city and its dwellers were absorbing.

Book One flew by and I started Book Two about half a minute after I'd finished the first - this is not normal behaviour for me. I normally read everything at least twice before I move onto the next... a habit learned when I couldn't afford to have several in the queue waiting to be read .
I know that all the threads are being woven into a rich tapestry for book three but I have a guilty secret to confess here: I have to admit to turning past description to get to story - only in the sub-plot - sorry - the irony of this is not lost on me!

These books were passed on by a friend who thought I'd enjoy them - he wasn't wrong. I do feel guilty about not actually handing money over to the shop keeper and the author - perhaps I should send a donation of, say, £10 to Trudi, directly? It's more than she's getting from her contract.

I bought the first two in the Gladiator Boy series (David Grimstone) from Asda - at £7 for two - I'm not doing well on 'the money into the hands of hardworking authors and publishers'. However, my WIP is aimed this young. I haven't got to 100 MG books (8-12): the recommended number for anyone writing for this level! I also hoped these books might interest a Y6 reluctant reader I'm battling with over reading (this equals stickers, lots of praise, catching him reading and checking his Reading Diary at least twice a week - my TA sees it daily). Perhaps, setting him the same kind of trialls that Decimus has to face might also get through his resistance to deciphering the written word, and getting a parental signature at least three times each week?!

Also, when I was minding my own business (lol), in Borders - checking which books had been allocated in, out, up, down and window space in the local book emporia (I've started thinking in terms of the Hokey Kokey) - Orson Scott Card's book Ender's Shadow walked off the shelf and into my shopping basket. I wish it hadn't - really and truly - because, now I'm doomed to waste time and money on Amazon tracking down anything else in the series. This is the third way I'll avoid paying the RRP for books this weekend :(

I refused to buy The Lost Symbol at Asda for £9 - I'll wait for its release in paperback then divvy up the money legitimately.

THIS IS SUCH A RELIEF: when writing romance I kept my reading firmly in this genre - I feel free to read anything at the moment. I think a large part of my reluctance to narrow down the four / two books I'm actively writing is because I don't want to read only one genre.

I've got two by Darren Shan (Books Two and Three), Brisinger, The Reader and On Chisel Beach lined up. So, with that, and quite possibly, Orson Scott Card's entire back catalogue, to get through I'm glad there is only one week to half term.

We hired a plumber too - hot water and heating? Maybe... I'll believe it, when I feel it.

The submission e-mailed on 04/10 is still out there - keeping the number to less than three is killing me - I'm about to resort to snail mail and blanketing the world with Near Edgware. I can't think of a nicer cover.

Over on Nathan Bransford's Blog the Competition is winding down - just the voting and counting to go. I was torn between Jackie Brown's entry and Travis Erwin's. I went with Jackie's because it sounded so painful and tortuous. Good Luck to all the finalists.

Time to get organised for school - and the dreaded Parents' Consultation Evenings!

Thursday 15 October 2009

What to write?

Friday - the day that comes after Thursday - approaches.

Post revolution, the class were debating what we should write in our long writing session. Before the evolution of the curriculum, that has taken place in one corner of our school, there would have been no debate: we would be writing Harvest poetry as we have each day this week. But the discussion was unanimous: they all want to write stories - novelists to the core. I tried to make poetry seem like a great idea - I love poetry - the rules ruled and free-form versions - but no - Y6 were dead keen to write their story arc. I set them the thrilling task of including farming and harvest and it still didn't make poetry seem like a good alternative. I guess they feel secure in inventing their own characters and giving them life - God-like. It feels easier than trying to capture the essence of the season and harvest in a form restricted by syllables or rhyme.

Roni asked, on her blog, what our character's motto might be. What a thought provoking question... so thought provoking that I passed the task to Jess and Caleb Near Edgware. Normally, it's Flower that I take out - oldest child syndrome? But I wanted to know what Jess and Caleb would answer. They weren't keen to give their thoughts at first.

With Jess she hates injustice and loves things in life to be simple. She went with: "Judge people as you find them."
Caleb started well: "Principals and Honour - the truth should follow"

He wanted to put all three with equal value but I just wouldn't let him away with that - not when he tends to be economical with the truth.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

You've got to like life, it is never predictable

Harvest, schmarvest ... "it'll happen" seems to be the thinking, rather than work hard and practise. We've had one run through of the songs and attempts at several poetical styles of writing. There has to be three half decent poems out there for me to use; I hope. One more run through, on Thursday afternoon, then it's: "Hello Friday morning!" and the small matter of the audience of parents. Relaxed, seems to sum it up.

On the up-side:
  • Tomorrow I'm going to the Cinema with the school - 3-D glasses necessary, apparently.
  • I've been offered a free trip to Budapest, in term time - gotta love the Comenius Project. I'm putting this down to the power of positive thinking - daydreaming and all from the other day :)
  • I should still be on for Cyprus in term 3 as well :))

With Nathan's competition in mind I looked at the original, and the slim-line, story openings for Near Edgware. Writing is an evolutionary process.

Monday 12 October 2009

Nathan and me - it's like a psychic connection

So, on the first day I felt I was, something like, in control of the screaming hordes I drove home thinking I'd celebrate by going to the Writer's Circle: park setting, custard creams and a visiting tutor offering to help us make our characters truly 3-D. But Nathan, knowing that I had time to WRITE for the first time in a month, pitched in with a competition to provide the incentive to blow off the Park Crew.

Like, technically, it is two paragraphs but hey ... poetic license?

by Elaine AM Smith

The first time he had peered through the gates of the overgrown garden, to the pile of bricks cemented together by vines, it had reminded Tom of some sleeping princess’s forgotten castle. He had tried to decide which was worse: the fact that he had been talked into coming over to Chelsea for a bit of wilful destruction or that he was standing outside a rotting building thinking about damsels in distress. Tom rubbed his head against the metalwork until it crumbled in protest. Rust clung to his damp forehead and his shaking hands, “You dragged me north of the river for this?”

My year group partner was away from work today. I missed her. It's no fun revolting on your own.

Sunday 11 October 2009

But then there's the reading. I always get to the bitter end - eventually

Finished the biography of Emma: The Twice Crowned Queen - sooooo, wishing she'd been amongst the Danes culled.

It was very like reading Sir Frank Stenton's Anglo Saxon England - which I have (the only person on my A-level course to bother) - only with a much narrower field of vision. It had the same tone, too.

Emma would make an excellent character to write a novel about; it appears that someone else thought so too: a speedy Amazon confirmed. That would be a book to track down. Or, maybe not - the book I found doesn't begin at the beginning of Emma's life nor end at the end - umm - that wouldn't be at all ....

Emma would never have won the Mother of the Age or, indeed, the Wife of the Late Anglo Saxon Era, but she sure learned to bend with the winds of mis-fortune.

More than a feeling - but not in a good way

Did you ever get the feeling that something much greater than you really has it in for you?

I'm not talking about the playground bully, although that would be bad too. I am talking about an omniscient being, the one who knows the moment you don't think anything else could go wrong. That's when he swoops in; just in time to show you how, very, wrong you were.

1 Our neighbours applied to add an extension - extra room above the garage.
2 Our boiler died.

The neighbour's extension extends over our roof... ? Not by a lot, but ... ? That was a worry.

Next, our son - see autobiographical details - wants to help the plumbers when they come to offer estimates. This is a problem when you want them to work when you are at work.

Next the water from our washing machine in the Utility Room (garage) that should go down the drain in our back garden decided that it no longer needed to do that thing - see neighbour's builders for the explanation to that one. They are, theoretically, on the case with sorting that little problem out -- um. A soapy water stream going to the other drain, aren't you envious?

School thinks this is an ideal time for me to organise and run an educational revolution - obviously, perfect timing for that - no pressure.

Bub, the hub, is running to keep up.

Babe, the ... yep that one, is far too devoted to texting her, already-at-University, boyfriend to remember to do the odd bit of work.


That's what I thought, but ...

Today, the "I'm not finished with you, yet: Harbinger of all things that could possibly make Elaine's life more complicated, added a new twist. Apparently, water need no longer leave the dishwasher or sink in the kitchen - see neighbour's grand expansion plan complication above.

We didn't begin to wash up until it was good and dark. Imagine the scene - windup torch and rubber gloves and crawling around the two drains outside - such fun! If it was earlier than 10:30 pm I'd have gone around there today. I walked to the door, and circled back, at least three times trying to make myself go there tonight - it's a British thing right?

I'm going around there tomorrow - any words of advice?

You know I can't help thinking that being a full-time writer - writing from home - would be the answer to lots of these problems.

Or, leaving them all to it while I flog the book and let the carers do the daily caring ... ooh! That's a thought too! It is revolutionary season, after all!

I feel soooooooo much better now. Long vent - little daydream.

Now I need my sleep; I have a battle to wage tomorrow.

Thursday 8 October 2009

Harvest time in school brings on melody and rhyme and an educational revolution. This must make me Citizen Smith.

The educational revolution is taking me back to the future.

Sir says I have permission to plan anything, in any format I want, to take my learners in any direction I think would engage and motivate.

That space represents the distance my jaw dropped.

It is a fraction of the sickly feelings of disorientation that went with his announcement.

Of course, there was also the spinning vortex playing havoc with my inner ear as I saw a link form to bridge a gap between the years when it was me that sat at the little desk doing topics, and projects, and writing stories in note books (well, I never said that much changed in my life) and the present that has been straight jacketed by the National Curriculum mark I, II, III and however many more incarnations there have been of it.

I was the voice of reason suggesting that we really out to build up and out of the key targets. Planning two weeks of Maths and Literacy took two hours not an hour a lesson.

I'll teach Maths and PE on a timetable. Then I'll do conferencing in blocks while the children keep time logs and work toward the expected outcomes for each week. We have additional adults to make practical elements possible. The children will get to plan, do, review, improve and present - wow. I'm fighting the need to "Steiner" because the SATs will still be looming large in May. I'll be looking at the principals though and adapting them, where possible, into the educational revolution.

Science - Microbes - not due until after half term - steps up and has real-life context as we will make a traditional bread wheatsheaf for the Harvest. I told the class if they wanted to do their non-fiction Recount on the History of Tractors they were to go for it. Of course, there may still be Florence and Fred hoping to achieve as little as possible under a desk but, I predict, few will be hoping to join them.

This weekend, marking notwithstanding, I'm going to have time to write. This will be the first block of free time long enough to work on more than editing.


Near Edgware' s Beta Readers suggested a minor modification in Ch 8 that I love - it really works well. They made a good scene even better. The alterations that I've already made to the ending pre-empting the other main discussion.

The only highlight of my week, last week, was that after their positive comments I did the first submission with the re-worked letter (that has been re-worked again already).

It felt good to be doing something for Jess and Caleb... as good as taking part in the revolution!

I'm looking forward to creating JJ's world and a section for FOUND'ER.

Do many author's deliberately write two books at the same time?

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Collecting missions, visions and aims

School has been INSET-ing me into a semi-vegetative state creating mission, vision and aim statements. It's like writing, in-so-far as there are words and a fat, felt pen involved but I keep getting the sneakiest of feelings that we are doing this task, on repeat, until we get close enough to the decision that has already been made to make the process seem democratic.
Its like the original Design a School Badge Competition - no one looked more confused to be awarded a prize 'for her winning design' than the girl who couldn't see any element of her design in the finished logo.

I have three headaches at the moment, so that probably counts as a good day here:
1 The one in my head
2 The situation that sees the boy without his college placement - square peg syndrome
3 The boiler that doesn't boil - can't boil, won't boil, shouldn't be allowed to boil, needs to evolve

Also, everything about autumn makes me want to write more of Jess and Caleb's story. The sky here, this evening, was flaming red and yet its unnaturally vibrant shades didn't warm, but warn. All I wanted to do, when I watched the sky become streaked with wisps of orange like irradiated fruit, was make notes in my book diary and writing journal. There are a couple of weeks to my writing's first birthday. The feelings that churn at that thought are just as intense as the way I felt when both cherubs hit the same milestones. I have an attachment to that book that is almost physical, and that feels ... unexpected and, sometimes, too large.

I re-worked the ending of Near Edgware. When I scanned the new ending it seemed that polishing wasn't going to be enough and some serious sanding was required. I was glad to have a legitimate reason to be working to make the story glow. I've got to free it from the masking of a rough surface and let the gem shine - someone wrote a poem like that today - I tell Year 6 it's called magpie-ing.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Cold Reader One makes contact

Something about that title sounds like I need a radio microphone to hear the next response!

My class is, finally, settling down. The work load is feeling more manageable. Also, I've listened to the new Muse CD so often I don't know why I didn't love it all, totally, on day one. (You know it's a bad sign when you're thinking of doing the radio phone-ins, in the hopes of winning tickets to see them live - bless!)

The cold readers, who have also been busy with the work life balance, must be eating their way to the end of the book. Perhaps they thought injesting it was the way to go. I've been a study in patience. :S Today, before school, I got an e-mail from the first of the cold readers - who only got four chapters as I was nervous of sending the whole thing out. She has asked for the rest... with lots of exclamation marks. I'm taking that as a good sign.

After school I logged on here and found messages and a new follower. I like good news. It turns average days into quite another thing. Welcome Danni. I loved reading over on your blog. I felt right at home.



Dark, clawing brambles shredded my skin. Gasping and shaking, I scrambled to higher ground at the top of the mound. I dragged shallow breaths into my aching, ice-scorched lungs. Time, like my energy, was running out and I still hadn't delivered the warning.

I’d come back home to enjoy hanging out with my friends. Instead, I’d spent time researching a little known sub-culture and walking, make that running, into danger. Before being ripped apart and dying - if I was lucky - it could be I had just enough minutes left to invent a time machine; perhaps he really wasn’t worth all this?

I imagined myself in quieter, safer, alternate realities. In my head I agonised over the question but in my heart I found the answer: the excitement of knowing, and being loved by him. I loved him. He made even this seem like the right place to be. I smiled and, even though he wasn’t there with me, I reached out my hand as if we could really touch.

Time machines are over-rated. I’d stand by my choices.

I took a deep breath and screamed.

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Muse - the cure for Black Holes and these unexpected Revelations - Resistance against depression

If I hadn't bought the Muse CD yesterday I would have pitched the tent in the back garden and moved into it, because no-one deserved to be around me.

Storming, sulking and wallowing were a quite extreme reaction to the KS2 briefing Staff Meeting. One moment I was adding all the new up-dates in organisation, expectation, innovations, performances on top of my 5 sets of books that needed to be marked in the school where some people eat supply teachers for their break time snack. Next moment I knew a storm was brewing. I slid down in the chair, folded my arms (impersonated the pupil in my class, who shall remain nameless here) and realised that my foot was already tapping. Surviving to the end of the meeting, I went into my work partner's room. I was now doing an impression of a different challenged pupil. I waited, until she asked what was up, and being too socially skilled and conditioned to complete my impersonation, by turning the tables over, I opted for crying.

My nice head of KS2 genuinely tried to offer help but I don't know how to not manage. I was so out of my depth in the-land-of-swamped-under, I didn't see what I needed help with. I just needed more hours in the day and I didn't think she could supply that. I threw up some fierce defensive walls and let the words flow somewhere over the top of my head and wound myself up tighter.

The, also, nice teacher who phoned to ask if I knew it was my day in charge of lunch, for the next day, was the final straw. Numbed panic was replaced by unimaginable rage. Now, I don't do not coping. I do geeky amounts over-enthusiastic work and laughing the face of adversity. Rage was followed, far too quickly, by a trip to a dark hole I haven't navigated since the day my boy was diagnosed with autism. It is no place to be.

Tescos had Muse. Now I'm a bit deafer. My cure for that insidious feeling of panic that drags you into places dark-and-deep involves headphones (ever thoughtful) and volume that makes you appreciate music at a physical level - vibrations in more than the middle ear.

This CD may not be my classic, favourite on-first-listening, perfect collection - the answer for Black Holes and Revelations being Absolution - but I sure know the tracks quite well now. What is with the classic-heavy bit Matt? Also, it's bad enough that my seventeen-year-old has made a bid for rebellion by obsessing over musicals without the 'Muse-does-Queen-in-Sinbad-production-number' shock! But the cure worked. I ran the Y6 teachers' Meet and Greet, meaning I didn't get out of school until 7:30, and I'm now sane enough to admit that yesterday I'd have rivaled the feral Were for ferocious, mindless, violence - they could have brought it, because I would have left with it.

Then I edited Near Edgware Chapter One - I felt right at home re-reading and picking on semi-colons.

Monday 7 September 2009

This feeling called ... hateful! Horrible! Hateful! Horrible! Hateful! Horrible! Apart from the reading

The days just kept on passing, tick by ominous and inevitable tick, and then the school holidays ended! I couldn’t believe it. One minute I had oodles of writing time and the next thing I knew it was three days to term and I had to WORK!

I cold read Laura’s Hollow Souls and got engrossed in it. The process of reading for a writer was a different reading experience from any other I’d had before. Starting a book is not normally a scary thing – wanting to read it ‘right’ :S I confused myself! (No wonder I had such trouble with the poor girl’s name.)

The new class is vast – I seem to be packing them in. I had 18 in my Maths group last year – I’ve, literally, doubled that this year. My eyes can’t stretch wide enough to see them all at once if I had the ‘surround’ vision of an owl I’d agree that that number is manageable but OMG. Normal chit-chat brings noise levels to frowning point. The year group is, technically, full + 1 but we cannot turn anyone away as we have the potential to go back to three forms of entry. At least the biggest group - Maths - are the middles and above (in ability) but that means they ‘do’ lots. I looked at the books piled up on the table, hoped there must be some completed books in there too, and realised that they all needed marking.

Three classes merged into two so something as simple as finding everyone’s exercise book – yes they do carry over into the next year – has been a trial. They were challenging in three classes so condensed into two they are ... brimful of characters.

So, no writing since the Reading Festival. Did I write about that here? I've been so busy I don't know if I did that - great! Re-order this well known phrase or saying: PLOT MUST LOSING I THE BE

However, I’ve been READING!!!!
Planning and reading.
Tidying and reading.
Sorting and reading.

8 am to 6pm
(NO BREAK Break Duty
15 minutes for lunch
staff meeting after school)
7:30pm to 10:00pm working on assessment and preparation

During the holiday a telephone survey called – when the girl said, “Oh! A teacher that’s 9 to 3:30 - about 35 hours a week then?.” Little Miss Positivity... Positivity ... All is Positivity very nearly decided that my normal mantra didn’t apply to tele-canvassers!!

10:00 pm to 11:00
This bit of blog writing and a Haiku for Twitter

I think I’m due an early night. Tom and his friends and The Ghost and her homeless protectors know I’ll be right back when things settle down, when I’m used to not being able to see, at one glance, that my whole class is present.

Monday 24 August 2009

This feeling called ... OMG 70,000 words is a very large number

Starting to write a totally new project seemed like a good way to fill in the time. Now I remember how it felt to start - not even a year ago. It was so mind boggling that I started twice.

In October last year I opened a Word document and stared at the blank screen for a bit. I decided that you should only write what you know and I know misery and grief. I invented a character then killed her mother just to see what she'd do if she was really p***ed off about it. And so Flower was born: a girl with a family of one, who turned into a weed, when her garden was annihilated. Of course, I hadn't factored into my thinking how sad it would be to wallow in misery - it got right in the way of real life.

Half-way through October I decided I wanted to write something a little more cheerful so I decided to put Jess' life in jeopardy instead. But Jess has a lot more control over her destiny than Flower does. Jess and Caleb's story is a simple tale of how love can grow even under the most difficult of circumstances - that it can withstand anything - if you are prepared to work at it hard enough. And, oh boy will they have to work hard!

The new book is convoluted like the Serpentine, or Westbourne River.




“Sod off, I’ve got better things to do with my time, Marcus.” Tom shrugged off the hand his friend had placed onto his shoulder, “You dragged me north of the river for this?”

The first time he’d peered through the greying, iron gates to the overgrown garden on the other side, it had reminded him of some fairytale princess’s forgotten castle. Tom had spent moments trying to decide which was worse: the fact that he’d been talked into coming over to Chelsea for a bit of wilful destruction or that he was standing outside a rotting building thinking about damsels in distress. But a little damage wasn’t going to be noticed in this dilapidated house.

It would have been fun to kick a door or two, crush a little glass, rip things up a little and, maybe, paint his tag without being disturbed and messing it up. But that was before he’d caught a glimpse of the house. Well, it wasn’t the house that had made his heart stop and forced the breath out of his body. It wasn’t the window that arced open; it was more what he’d seen in that window.

Tom wiped the perspiration from his forehead, pushing his brown hair higher with the back of his sleeve. The stain on his blue top made him frown. He leaned back against the crumbling, brick wall and rested the heel of his foot into a groove where the brick had worn away. He calmed the shudders more easily with this support while he maintained his image of bored disinterest. He had to rub the cuff over his eyebrows as the last drops of sweat threatened to make his eyes sting. He needed watering eyes like a hole in the head. He couldn’t let his friends see that he was shaken. Shaking.

‘There was a f***ing ghost in there.’ He yelled the words inside his head. Even the echo seemed to agree with him. But he wasn’t stupid enough to say the words aloud.

This feeling called ... loss

Near Edgeware is out with the cold readers and officially closed - for the moment.
I opened up the file twice yesterday, just to look and see that it was still there.

The first three chapters of Book Two are written so I can pick it up easily and get back into the flow. I know where Jess is and that with both Caleb, and her parents on their way there things could get awkward.

I didn't know what to do with myself without the writing to fill endless minutes (ignoring everything I should be doing with the same minutes). I researched and filled my head with information that meets a very exact list of requirements I once read.The new book should be a one off.

Finding working titles that are designed to make me smile but have some relevance to the book is one of my favourtite parts of the process. I have selected FOUND' ER as the new book's working title and considering how convoluted the whole thing is FOUND'ER is a good title - someone needs to.

FOUND'ER WORD COUNT: 1,785 (pages 1 to 5)

Friday 14 August 2009

Preface gets the punctuation treatment - probably a good idea

Editing is like polishing: you can see it needs doing, but put it off because it means you have to pick things up and put them down where they really ought to be. Polishing is never my favourite thing but I'm always pleased by the results when I get around to doing it.


The pain from shredded skin, ripped on the thorns and brambles in my path, drained what was left of my strength. Gasping and shaking, I scrambled to higher ground at the top of the mound. I dragged shallow breaths into my aching, ice-scorched lungs. Time, like my energy, was running out and I still hadn't delivered the warning.

I’d come back home to enjoy hanging out with my friends. Instead I’d spent time researching a little known sub-culture and walking, make that running, into danger. Before being ripped apart and dying, if I was lucky, it could be that I had just enough time left to invent a time machine, perhaps he really wasn’t worth all this?

I imagined myself in quieter, safer, alternate realities. In my head I agonised over the question but in my heart I found the answer: the excitement of knowing, and being loved by him. I loved him. He made even this seem like the right place to be. I smiled, and even though he wasn’t there with me, I reached out my hand as if we could really touch.

Time machines are over-rated; I’d stand by my choices.

I took a deep breath and screamed.

I cannot make that description at the start anything but clumsy - you shouldn't wake with that as your first thought of the day... oh, that's just me! I sense a little work still needed - it still goes out to the girls on Monday - argh!


Dark, clawing brambles shredded my skin. Gasping and shaking, I scrambled to higher ground at the top of the mound. I dragged shallow breaths into my aching, ice-scorched lungs. Time, like my energy, was running out and I still hadn't delivered the warning.

Yeah... reading is the font of all knowledge - Reading is the source of much anticipation

There is nothing that cannot be solved by judicious reading and trial and error - it was a trial and I didn't make an error - my alter-ego and split personality has split - I've found out how to de-blog - phew!

But the edit is 30 pages from completion - I'm getting completion-phobic. Then there's JJ and Flower and Book 2 - a few other projects that are already started.

I love holidays - so much time to fill and no pressure - the wind up is about to begin though; time to get ready for the Reading Festival!

Wednesday 12 August 2009

So, if I can learn to add all this why... oh why... can't I stop stalking me?

I've been having fun adding elements to the blog - now that I've found out how to do it.

However, I have stressed - been depressed - by my inability to stop stalking myself. You know how it goes, you intend to click to find out the fascinating details about the people who have stopped by and taken up residence when you hit the wrong place - no wandering off to pastures new just lurking with the one you knew - oh, well!

I'd ask for advice but I'd have more luck reading literature in French or German than translating from techno-speak.

Could be worse - I could've set off to pick up the cherub from Stanstead Airport - turned off for Stanstead seen signs for Gatwick and panicked. I do it all the time viz Stanmore verses Edgware tube station - but they're only 5 minutes apart.

McDonalds - I love them and all who work for them - I called at Epping - full of panic... 'cos it could have been the other one and the road works were manic - they let me use their phone (Why would you pick that up on the way out to pick someone up from the airport?!) - and gave me a coffee - and waved me off. CUSTOMER SERVICE!! I wasn't even a customer.

Must remember to pay attention to where I'm going - Jess (Near Edgware) says it's always a good idea - and she ought to know!

Back to the Twitter philosophical haikus - it's good to get back into the old routine. Working with cold readers on Near Edgware

iQuote"Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else's life forever." – Margaret Cho

Kind thoughts are like ghosts:
insubstantial if-onlys
in manufacture.

iQuote“The things in nature are nothing but effects; their causes are in the spiritual world.” - Emanuel Swedenborg

Nature's harmony
links and grows organically;
we force the effects.

For a person not editing the book - I spent time putting things back yesterday and adding more depth to the bit parts. It will give my editor something to cut - which is good.
Created a tee-shirts to reward - and I use that word advisedly - my cold readers. You can't start the publicity too soon.
I'm nervous of letting copies of the book out in e-format - maybe I'll print 239 pages x 4 and increase the rate of de-forestation.

WORD COUNT - Near Edgware 77,906

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Twilight ... mentioned at the Writers' Circle

I know... what are the chances?

The visiting author mentioned how Steph Meyer is being sued - I know, total b****** - the April's Fools Day 'prank' !

I think this means her global domination is now truly complete though - custard creams and calumny!

Tis a daring thing I do here - risking admitting to a more than vague knowledge of the series but I'd have to be dead to not know they exist and stupid not to have made sure I'd read them.

There sure are no sparkily vampires here!

Friday 7 August 2009

Shakespeare - really... get a grip

I do Sonnet of the Day - sad... I know ... but he knows/knew rhyme and how to spin emotion. I don't normally have this reaction but:

LV... #55

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmear'd with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lover's eyes.

Look, Shakespeare - normally I'm right there with you but, really... you were writing with ink onto paper parchment - I can't help but think that unswept stones, war, fire or a mis-place cup of coffee could have, and nearly did, do for this rhyme - a little premature ... but it's good to think big! Sometimes it pays off - apparently.

The weekdays passed with their perfect regular patterns. I enjoyed every moment of the working, sitting, swimming and running because over, round and through each of these ... was Caleb. The waiting... glimpsing... being there times with Caleb.

CURRENT WORD COUNT - 78,152 Wup! Wup! Word-up ~ in reverse!

Thursday 6 August 2009

I'm bad - and I don't mean like Michael Jackson

I need a book fairy - the Magical Fairy of Leave the Bloody Book Alone - if you spot her, in passing, send her along to visit me ... or an agent... that would do too - I believe they take the book off you and they don't let you play with it any more; that is what I need!

The finicky little re-edit that isn't really happening is well over half way done - it all began because I was determined to get the total under 80,000 - as the new micro total is 80,406 words - I think I'll be well under - which is like ... highly unlikely considering where it started!

You know like I'm banned from touching the first 60 pages? Seems that I accidently re-wrote the preface today - oops!


The pain from shredded skin, torn on the thorn and bramble thickets – nature’s barbed wire – drained what was left of my strength. Gasping and shaking, I scrambled to the top of the mound – the resting place of some long-dead, warrior-chief. I dragged shallow breaths into my aching, ice-scorched lungs. Time was running out – like my energy – and I still hadn't delivered the warning.
I’d come back home to enjoy hanging out with my friends… instead I’d spent time researching a little known sub-culture - narrowly managing to not avoid danger and working hard to keep the right side of certifiably insane; of course, love has a way of making all that seem like a really good idea.
Before the being ripped apart and dying part – if I was lucky... because there was another alternative – it could be that I had just enough time left to invent a time machine… perhaps he really wasn’t worth all this?
I imagined myself in alternate realities – each one different – safer… quieter. My head agonised over the question but my heart found the answer - love… excitement… the knowledge that I knew the real him – it made even this situation feel that I was in the right place. I smiled, and even though he wasn’t there with me, I reached out my hand as if we could really touch.
Time machines… they’re much over-rated – I’d stand by my choices.
I took a deep breath and screamed.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Back 'Near Edgware' - this is the right weather for Jess and Caleb's story

It must be time to give the book the limelight - I dreamed it in Florence - that was amazing - must have been missing it.

Of course, there was also the one that included Nathan - I'm putting that down to the lack of internet access - I've never seen him in 3-D before .... as a whole person (not just fingers on the keyboard) ... minds back out of the gutter!

I looked forward to the cross-country run; Ife had the equal and opposite reaction. She threw herself down – draped across a chair in the Common Room.
With her head at an uncomfortable angle she groaned, “You just don’t understand. I feel sick – I don’t think it – I - am - nauseous!”
“Why don’t we just walk at the back?”
Ife snorted.
“This is a fun run; why don’t we just wander and sight-see?”
Ife raised her head and opened one brown eye.
“Why not?” asked Anna, “We can set a new course record in reverse? Slowest ever time around the route.”
“Is there a course record?”
They laughed at me.
“OK! Alright! So – I like breaking records!”
“I’ll walk,” Ife sat up – the grumpy expression changing to the defensive one as she ran her hand over her hair, “but I’m bringing a plastic bag – just in case!”
“My hair’s only just been relaxed; I could bring my umbrella!”
Ben grinned at Ife with the rest of us, but he shifted in his chair “I’ve got a bet thing happening with Joe and Matt; I… could… back out of it?”
I tried to look offended but failed, “This is a girl-only outing. You’re out anyway!”

The walk would be slow. I put my running vest under my tee-shirt and extra-large drama sweatshirt, to keep out the chill. Rubbing the healed lump on the back of my head, I eyed the route into the woodland. The runners powered their way up the slope; for a moment I wished I was up near the top.
Ali, Ife, Anna and I slithered up the churned mud of the track. We had to clutch each other when Anna slipped into the largest of the pool-sized puddles. Wet passed her ankles, she concentrated on plaiting her long red hair – muddied hair was so much more distressing than soggy feet. But, it could’ve been worse, Ife had her plastic bag hanging out of her tracksuit pocket – it wouldn’t be long before that was on her head. We waddled to keep moving forward; our mud-heavy trainers sucked along behind us. My sides ached but not from walking.
We wandered through oaks, silver birch and purple beech trees; to avoid the thickest of the mud we trudged shin deep in damp leaves and kicked them as we went. We were far behind the main group when something about the sights, sounds and smells began to register as ... wrong. I froze – mid-kick – to look around and listen – held out both arms to help me balance – sucked in an anxious breath.

Friday 24 July 2009

In Italy

The internet cafe is the only place hotter than the streets - called in for a quick check on e-mails and the like and found that other people have been visiting here more than I have recently.

Sun and art and architecture - and did I mention sun?
Then there are the bites - I've seen more bites than anything else - still it could have been worse... in France I had to try to communicate in French (for a friend with a diarrhoea and vomitting bug) and get medicine to bring back for her ... the Farmacia here was a 'piece of cake' everyone being covered from head to foot in itchy red bites!

The time is running out - not something I usually have to worry about -

I started writing for the Manchester Writing competition - set in .... yep that one! Not many words to play with yet still the descriptive phrases flow - I laugh, when writing, wondering how many days it will be before I start cutting them back out.

I left Tasha balanced on the top of a gate post so, maybe, I ought to go and write her back down again!

Monday 20 July 2009

Back to writing philosophically

Poetry up-date

I got so caught up in the hectic whirl of termly - yearly - endings that I've been philosophically quiet.
This morning I caught up on a couple just to remind myself that I do that thing.
Shame about the holiday interrupting normal schedule - I'm going to try to keep with the daily writing programme again.
I normally include the iQuote with the haikus but the ones below stand alone anyway:

iQuote"It's amazing what a little courage in the right place at the right time can accomplish." -- John Scherer

To weigh the odds and
know the consequences,
yet still act - is brave.

iQuote“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” -- Helen Keller

Actions cause ripples
affecting first us; they lap,

When did work or truth
or selfish-absolution
ever set you free?

We're only human,
sometimes almost human, in -
humanely human.

Reality gnaws!
Real-life carves chunks of living
- fantasy seasons!

Joy grows from self-worth,
needs unity and balance,
circles not furrows.

Dark thoughts and actions
are not hid by darker shrouds
they glitter in light .

Sudden disappearance

Well, it went like this officer: one minute there was a story posted here and the next moment there wasn't!

Yesterday, I played the game called, 'What can you do with a mini-story?'

Well, 'Micro, Sudden and Flash me down with a feather!' There is a whole world of 'What on Earth's?' available for the little bleeder!

I polished the story up - lost the bits that I didn't need - tried harder to make it even more horribly diabolical and sent it off in the hopes of earning my first ever $50 for 'me' writing, Governor!

Then, having sent it off - and being totally irritated by the first line of dialogue that was left for the Adipose Poser - or Cuckoo as she introduced herself - I had another go at sorting out the irritating bits and Voila (with no accent 'cos I'm too tired to be bothered finding it!) even more sorted - the story is done!

I don't know if on the Blog counts as 'published', off the page it had to go .

Editing interrupted by organising for the holiday

Word Count: - still 'Near-ly finished' 86,000 and falling

Sunday 12 July 2009

Writers' Circle 500 word challenge

So, 500 words is not very many - no problem.
Then they worked out the list of desirable elements the story had to contain - I avoided crying narrowly and writing for a lot longer . But it has to be handed in for tomorrow and this is me finishing it now - I'm a regular little 'joiner' - what can I say!
This is my Writers' Circle....
Some - not all of the following should be included:
Will Sparrow aged 44 born Las Vegas now lives in Dunstable
Able to hold his drink but suffers from flatulence
Has a weakness for fine wine, excellent food and cream scones
Dislikes bad manners and fears heights
Longs to be discovered by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and enjoys singing and waltz music
Fav book 'Billy Liar' and Fav film 'The Go-between'
1 A wallet found
2 Shopping for books
3 A railway station

I wrote like having root canal fillings

Saturday 11 July 2009

Editing 'Near-ly... finished'

OK, so it's a lie - I have chamois-ed over the first 5 chapters - I am now officially banning myself from even looking anywhere between pages 1 and 60.

It is so unfair, to the rest of the writing, that the first five chapters are at the start of the book. I always look and I always find new and inventive ways to tinker. They are now, not so much polished, as inherently sparkly!

The rest sits vaguely buffed or a trifle dingy depending on how far along we're talking about (more lies - what has gotten into me?)!

The later on in the book I got the tidier it was (from day one) - direct and purposeful, I always felt it was writing itself. I am now much clever-er at sentence order and vocabulary choices though.

WORD COUNT (after the last T-cut possible... until an editor forces me to bleed from my optical cavities ... on ch 1 to 5) 87,970 and falling!

Saturday 4 July 2009

You Tell Me, And Not Nathan When He Gets Back From Travel-ing For Good: What Would You Do With The Money?

As I’m sure you are aware Nathan is doing the opposite of sipping margaritas on his own desert island. So, while he is away ‘not finding the next JK Rowling’ because s/he is sitting here - twiddling thumbs - waiting for his return…the start of that beautiful relationship temporarily on hold. I thought we might consider what comes after domination of Bestseller’s Lists world wide.

When your book is published, and your name can be inserted into the following phrase ‘…………………, best-selling author’, what would you do with the multi-millions that are gathering dust in the bank?


Editing on the fourth of July

Going out! Social life calls!
Spent the day in edit mode but no time for typing!


88,318 and falling

Friday 3 July 2009

The day job wasn't half-bad today

I'm still buzzing - though not literally - Sports Day had humour, drama, endeavour, great sporting attitude, colour, excellence, fervour and races.

'It's A Knock-out' themed, so we could find out about seaside towns - march in parade behind the town crests - run sprint and long distance races and do fun activities (in groups) that, sadly didn't involve water - shame.
Cries of: Brighton! Ballycastle! New Quay (Wales)! Weymouth! Orkney (don't ask) mingled as the runners competed!
Congratulations to Tenby - worthy winners!
Hip! Hip! to my beloved Bournemouth who were the opposite of first place - we deserved Oscars in abundance though - high drama!

So the morning was good.
The afternoon couldn't pip the fun? Bring on the Y6 'Apprentice' - Young Enterprise Initiative!

Team spirit 'up-levelled' again! The road from their initial proposal - the hiring by the Head - the production of the various products - designing the image - through to setting up and the selling was not always a smooth one but they all either learned to get on or split into smaller conglomerates! Then, some groups unexpectedly merged in the minutes before the selling began - seeing useful business opportunities and ways to maximise and share profits!
The range of goods they produced was wider than you'd expect: homemade jewellery, biscuits, Smoothies, spare/rare cards from collections, Big Pens (oddly, the length of rolled up sheets of newspaper - causal link), strawberries and cream, ice-creams, we even had a cake shop with a tent, bunting and lashings of 'lemonade'!
As I walked around I could hear discussions of profit margins, cries of the hawkers and the 'singing' of adverts all designed to fleece the parents, and the rest of the school, of every penny available. It was idyllic - in a working together to turn in a profit kind of way.

The unexpected element, for me, was that several groups, had already agreed that when they made their first 'millions' (through their own efforts) they were going to donate a percentage of the net profit to charity - the biggest crisis in the Enterprise Groups this week was the one who couldn't narrow their beneficiaries from three to two!

So, a day that couldn't be improved upon?

Minnow was singing in the EOY concert at school (What I Did For Love - from A Chorus Line) .................................... (proud mother's extended speil went there). -: )

Monday afternoon is the Enterprise 'A-counting' Session (so the good continues) - they have to feed back to the school and present their accounts to our very own version of Sir Alan Sugar -CK !