Monday 31 January 2011


 After a long drive and a short walk on the Ashridge Estate I ended feeling cold and poetic. I wrote the Spring part last year but I felt the need to capture the changes that clung in the cold and crept out with the sunlight. 

I drove to Great Gaddeston, Little Gaddeston and Gaddeston Row - that was enough Gaddestons for me ;) Then we walked and hurried home.


Winter hardens in glittered bite;
Crisps, in sharp snaps, bladed dew;
Breathes on netted, silk-draped, bushes.
Winter does not warm to daylight’s lowered rays.
Winter rawness strains by cracks;
Pales while drifting blankets smooth;
Winter’s un-dyed skeletal mask deceives and smothers.   

Spring shoots from grey ground,
Darts in coy callings: tree to tree,
Peaks on spindled fingers seeking light:
Spring does not rush its great reveal, it revels in slow-rising sap.
Spring wafts irritating clouds,
Prances to new life’s dance,
Blushes while blossoms robe:
Spring, plush with lush life, swells and over-all flows.

The day felt like one season and in the sunlight, and from the car's rose-tinted interior, it masqueraded as the other..

Don't you love how words combine with internal rhythms?
Two answers are perfectly possible ;)

Friday 28 January 2011


Dominic is hosting the No fear Blogfest today.Check it out on his Blog, Writes of Passage

 All you have to do is:

"Post a passage in which your MC (or your favourite fictional character) shows their bravery. It might be in the face of physical danger, or peer pressure or personal sacrifice. It might be epic bravery or bravery that goes unnoticed by anyone but us, your devoted readers."


The members of the pack don't want Selene to risk exposing them all but after the Caleb is attacked Selene risks the mindless insanity of the turned werewolf when she chooses to go to him. She loves him. She has to try to bring him back from the dark place extreme violence has pitched him. 

“Where is he? Please?”
“He isn’t there," whispered Tedman."He could... he will attack.” 
I shook my head.
His eyes narrowed, “How could we explain the ripping new-you, to your parents, if he hurts you and blood contact affects your DNA?”
 “I have to try.”
Despite Faolan’s support, Mac’s feet dragged as he stepped closer, “How can we allow it?”
 “You have to let me see him. I can reach  ”
Tedman eyes glowed soft yellow, “He won’t let anyone near him. He won’t allow a light. He hasn’t moved, or even spoken since – .”
“Did he speak, after?”  
 “Again and again, but he only said one thing.”  Alburn spoke from the lowest step. His chest was wrapped in bandages but bruises seeped higher across his pale chest and blackened his jaw. There were no tears or bites, but he was a mess.
“His feet,” Alburn answered the unasked question.
“He kept saying: ‘It’s my fault.’"  said Tedman. "He couldn’t hear. He wouldn’t listen.”
“We told him it wasn’t,” added Alburn. “We said he wasn’t to blame for this, but …”
“He was wild. Now he is violent. Lost to us.”
Stumbling past and between them, I made for the stairs.
“Selene?” called Mac, “Where are you going?”
“To the dark.” Using my feet and hands, using as few steps as possible, I climbed to the top of the house.

Ducking under the unhinged door I saw the efforts they’d already made to tidy away the evidence of the attack. The room had been stripped of the damaged things; ghost-images of their possessions stood in the spaces everywhere. But Caleb wasn’t in the room, not on a bed at least. I looked towards the boys’ bathroom, sure now where he was.  
 The door was closed but a ray of sunlight glinted on the brass door handle and the key dangling from the lock. A rumbling growl made me freeze, but it wasn’t deep enough to be Caleb in wolf form. The lock gave a soft snick as I turned the key. Silence gave me the encouragement I needed to tug the handle and to push the door open. Foot hovering over the threshold, I paused when a deeper growl began in the dark of the room.
The others had followed. They were standing behind me talking in hushed whispers, making decisions they planned to enforce.
I gripped a small object tightly in my hand, didn’t waste time trying to argue or to explain. I darted inside and used the key to lock it closed again with two of us inside.
With the cold, tiled floor beneath me, I waited for my eyes adjusted to the half-light. Caleb was damaged and still trapped inside a cage, but this was one he had created in his mind. That didn’t matter. I had to find a way to get through to him, and then I’d be able to help him free himself from this prison too. With images of Alburn and Tedman fresh in my mind I knew the damage Caleb could do. But I had to believe, no matter what, that I could find Caleb, reach him, and survive.
The only sound on the other side of the room was breathing. Sounds that became deeper, more rapid. My heart raced, my breath caught, the smells in the confined space were building to toxic fumes. I ran my hands down the leather of Faolan's  jacket, there was stiff blood on my tracksuit. It sickened me. I staggered to the shower cubical just inside the door and threw the taps on full. Under the slashing water, I stripped off the jacket and allowed the water to sluice away the surface grime. It wasn’t enough. I peeled off the tracksuit. With the torrent pelting at my back, I waited until the water ran cold.
When I closed the cubical door, there was no sign that Caleb had moved. I slipped down to the floor, shivered as the drops of water trailed down my skin. Talking wasn’t going to work unless Caleb was ready to listen. It was too early to try. Tile by chilled tile, I shuffled forward. I ran my fingers around the tiles and along the grooves between. When I recognised every abrasive, scratchy imperfection, I moved closer onto the next tile.
Discordant and off key, too cheerful for my suicidal efforts, I hummed the song Caleb and his brothers had played the first time I'd visited. My mind flooded with memories. I hoped I could help Caleb find them too. 
I made torturously slow progress across the room. Caleb growled each time I tensed to make my move from one square into the next. His silhouette was easy to make-out, now my eyes were used to the dark. He lay by the side of the bath. With each snarl, violent tremors shuddered through him. His eyes were open but they were never still; they gleamed as they tracked the flicker of the strip of light that crept under the door, as I crawled ever closer.
Uncontrollable shivers made my voice break, I whispered, “I’m – cold; Ca-leb?”
I sat by his feet. He was so still. Blinking back tears cleared my blurred vision. Heart pounding, leaping with the rhythm of his breath, I counted forward and backwards from one hundred. I was still unhurt. Caleb hadn’t moved.
I crawled into the space behind him. Running the pads of my fingers as softly as I could along his back I slid my hand around to his chest. I curved my body around his.
He shivered.
Our bodies’ meagre warmth combined, seeped from core to core. I turned my cheek onto his back until I could see the wood panelled ceiling. Following the lines and counting the knots in the wood, I waited for an end, or for something better. Despite the danger, exhaustion won. With my arms around his chest and my forehead pressed to the centre of his back, I fell asleep.

Sorry it is on the long side, but it is my favourite piece of brave writing. I can't wait to read the other actions that take bravery and, maybe, risk life and limb :)

Wednesday 26 January 2011


My vote of thanks goes to the US Figure Skating Starting Skills Criterion but it hasn't taken much to make it slide over into Writing: How Goes IT?


Balance -  with precision in sentence construction and especially through accurate comma placement, the rhythmic nature of writing should be broken regularly

Flow and effortless glide – avoid anything intrusive that makes for a choppy read (to avoid this, read aloud and listen to how the work sounds)

Cleanness and sureness of plot twists, edge of seat moments contrived in controlled steps and stages, turns (particularly in terms of character development , should be well signalled)

Power/energy and acceleration :)

Mastery of (multi-directional) time

Mastery of emotional content

One footed/ handed writing is not a required or transferable skill ;)

Transitions/Linking between paragraphs and chapters – showing brisk movement

Basically, Figure Skating's advice to writers seems to be avoid the stodge, keep it fast and controlled. Seems like wise advice.

I learned about brine solutions, the effects of temperature inside and outside the stadium, the surface of ice and the thickness of protective glass too - the things I learn for Blogposts!

Tuesday 25 January 2011

HAPPY BURN'S NIGHT Camera Obscura - I love my Jean

My favourite track from Edinburgh band CAMERA OBSCURA has to be "Books Written For Girls"

he likes to read books written for girls,  he prides himself on being a man of the world, in the darkest of places he gets his thrills, he will disappoint you if you see through his perfect smile
But this is Burn's Night and the poetry speaks.  John Peel, famous DJ from a while back,  asked the band to put some of John Burn's poetry to music, this is the-glitter-of it:

Of a' the airts the wind can blaw,
I dearly like the west,
For there the bonie lassie lives,
The lassie I lo've best:
There's wild woods grow, and rivers row,
And mony a hill between;
But day and night my fancy's flight
Is ever wi' my Jean.
I see her in the dewy flowers,
I see her sweet and fair:
I hear her in the tunefu' birds,
I hear her charm the air:
There's not a bonie flower that springs
By fountain, shaw, or green,
There's not a bonie bird that sings,
But minds me o' my Jean.

Besides, I only got halfway through the mammoth list of entries in Alex's Blogfest. I have miles to go...    

Happy Burn's Night to anyone who has Scot's blood running through their veins.

Born Irish is a touch like Scottish - tonight I'll be celebrating with Glenn, Squeezed into a tiny pub. :) 

Monday 24 January 2011


I knew I was going to have trouble when  Alex J Cavanaugh created the TOP TEN COUNTDOWN; I'm going to find it hard to narrow a world of music down to just ten songs. There are some artists where I'd find it hard to narrow my favourites down to only ten tracks. 

They all tell a story I want to write.

Songs that made me cry because a Top 10 is just not big enough, include:
GENE - Save me, I'm Yours
SOPHIE ZELMANI -  I'll Remember You
THE SMITHS - Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
ELBOW - The Bones of You
HARD-FI  -  Cash Machine
MAXIMO PARK  - Books From Boxes
PINK - Please Don't Leave
LA ROUX - Tiger Lily
No room for LINKIN PARK? In Pieces. Crawling. Breaking the Habit!

Here are my 10 favourite songs:

10  THE CURE  - Love Cats


8  MUSE  - Super Massive Black Hole


6  KILLERS  - Mr Brightside



3  JAMES  - Sit Down

2  NIRVANA  - Smells Like Teen Spirit

1  NO DOUBT  - Don't Speak

Late posting. I went to view a school for next year's proper job (unless I'm very lucky.)
I'm looking forward to seeing what you like too. 

Sunday 23 January 2011

SCBWI - I'm in with the SCooBWI Gang

Free invite? All-comers welcome? Count me in.

I went to a Critique-Nique (a blend of critique and picnic. ;))  With my five hard copies of 2,000 words of my manuscript – first time I have made hold-in-your-hand copies for about 12 months – I used Seamus-the-SATnav to help me find Waterstone’s Birmingham.

I parked. Arrived. Spoke to staff:
“Hi!” *cheery smile “I believe you’re hosting a Writers' Meeting, could you tell me where?”
He said, “Not here. I think it must be in our other store.”
I must have looked as panicked as only a visitor to Birmingham’s city centre who has found themselves on the brink of the abyss into the heart of the Black Country, can look ;) . There are two. Who’d have thought?
“It’s not far,” he said.
I scurried down the street. Thankfully, it really wasn’t that far. I tried again.
“Hi!” *cheery smile “I believe you’re hosting a Writers' Meeting, could you tell me where?”
She said, “Not here. I think it must be in our other store.”
You know, I could have fun doing this all day? I thought – or a shorter collection of other four letter words.
But Nina, another writer-on-the-road-to-publication, was there, in the wrong store too. We hurried back up the street and kept looking ‘til we found the writerly bunch hanging out on the fourth floor of Waterstone’s 1.

If the aim is to provide support for unpublished writers and illustrators, they did a bang-up job.

I got to read other people’s excerpts and think stories and words. Being surrounded by people whose eyes don’t glaze over when you talk about POV, protags and antags and motivation, was great.  

I’m inspired to find a local critique group. After finding funds to pay for subs, I think I might make my own SCooB-WI Gang. Do you think I’d make a good gang leader?

Friday 21 January 2011

BIRTHDAY BASH - Happy Birthday Fred and Tessa

Happy Birthday Tessa!!!

This is for Tessa Conte's BIRTHDAY BASH blogfest.  

I am driving north and I didn't want to disappoint so I write this in about 20 minutes. Apologies for what ever it is you spot . This is so first draft I'm not sure I've read it yet. I'm thinking of it as sharing part of the writing process :)
Happy Birthday Fred.

“Relax, Freddie. What could go wrong?”
Fred leaned against the kitchen cupboard, scuffed the cream slate tile with the toe of his boot and raised his fingers, one at a time. “Mum and Dad coming back? Someone messing up the carpet? No one coming? Shell coming? Shell coming with someone else?”
“Get some perspective, bro.” mumbled Tom from the depths of refrigerator. “It’s a party in Carstairs. How many parties get put on in a village this size?” He had a chicken drumstick in one hand and the crumbs from a sausage roll down the front of his black tee-shirt. “You’ll be lucky if the entire population of village don’t turn up.”
Fred folded his arms across his chest and stared at the cold, wrinkled drumstick.
Tom didn’t take to being lectured. He launched himself forward, grabbed his brother’s head under his arm and rubbed the chicken into the careful combed down style, “SIXTEEN!”
“Get off!” He wriggled free when Tom let him go. “Shit. I wish we’d never started this.”
“We have bouncers, invites and no alcohol, Freddie-boy. Chill, already!”
 “What if no one comes though? Really.”
“Do people know it’s on?”
Freddie thought about his Facebook page, “Yep.”
“Then they’ll come. Don’t worry.”

A few hours later when Shell was leaning into Freddy and they’d found a corner by the curtains to kinda-sorta dance and Tom was in the kitchen with the vodka that didn’t count in the no alcohol rule because he was nearly eighteen, neither noticed more friends than either of them knew were already in the house. Some girl with arrow tattoos and a three facial piercings had taken to answering the door when no one else bothered. The last time, she didn’t open the door. It was kicked in.
Screaming, mob-heavy the arrivals had bounced the bouncers. Tall, black-suited and red with embarrassment they were pinned to the wall as the main group ran into the house. The crowds inside parted like warm margarine. They slithered to the sides. The group of late arrivals made the atmosphere a little more atmospheric: they threw lamps and smashed light bulbs. Sausage rolls were hard to grind into the carpet, who’d have thought. The carpets were stain resistant. Stamped pizza sauce was a test they failed.
Fred pushed Shell back into the cover of the curtains. He kissed the fingers that curled at the edge of the purple material. Smiled, when he saw the tears in her eye. He nodded but he didn’t risk speaking much, “Stay there.”
He pushed his way through visitors to the hall door. “WHAT THE FUCK!” he yelled when he found one tall boy, not much older than he, standing on the third step of his stairway. “What the fuck are you doing here?!”
“Nothing.” The boy sneered. “We’re guests. You invited us.”
“I’d have fucking remembered that.” said Fred.
“We got a general invite.”
Fuckin' Facebook. Bundled back by some of his unwelcome guests, Fred slipped on something he didn't want to look at on the carpet. Smashing in the kitchen was loud enough to crash through the shouting of the many who had arrived late. His friends, the ones he knew by face if not by name, were strangely quiet. Fred heard Tom’s voice through it all. He started to head to the back of the house but some of the well-organised team of Crashers had reached the full length curtains and Fred’s choices narrowed to one. Tom would call the police. He had to get to Shell.

I'm looking forward to be reading all the entries later tonight. :)

Thursday 20 January 2011


Writing? If you are thinking Foxtrot - pacing your novel slow, slow, quick, quick, slow - then it may be very hard to sell your work. However, if you’re aiming for the Quick Step’s hops, skips, side kicks, as well as the runs, chasses side-steps and turns... you may have the agent-of-your-dreams breathless with anticipation.

I’m going off on a serious dance metaphor. The next few posts will look remarkably like the score card used by the judges on Dancing-with-America’s-Next-Best-Gotta-Dance:
1.   Timing - Related to tempo & rhythm of the music/the narrative.

Timing is the drip-feed of incidents and action but it can also describe the affect of your sentence construction.

The tempo and rhythm of the action is the basic melody and the emotional tension is the harmony – or discordant tones – used to layer the sound of the music. A lull, lowering the intensity, is useful so you can spin it in and lift it higher.

Varying the sentence types and lengths creates the timing – the rhythm of the writing. Punctuation is - usually - essential and so is using a wide variety of connectors.


1 declarative *say it,
2 interrogative *ask it,
3 imperative *demand it and
4 conditional *consider the options

1. A simple sentence of one independent clause and no dependent clauses. 

Myra ran through woodland everyday.

2. A compound sentence of two or more independent clauses may be connected by a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet), a semicolon alone, or a semicolon and an adverb (a transitional phrase).

Myra ran through woodland everyday but she wondered what it might be like to walk there. Most visitors were blissfully ignorant of the dangers; Myra wasn't one of them. Some laughed when they peered out from the shelter of the trees; however, they were outnumbered by the ones who screamed.

3. A complex sentence is composed of one independent clause (the main clause is bold) and one or more dependent clauses starting with: when, if, before, because, although, after, unless, since 

While she was running through the dim forest, Myra encountered many living things.

Although she hated how it made her feel, Myra left the forest with fewer residents, whenever that was possible.

4. A compound-complex sentence of a compound sentence with a complex structure. It contains two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses. 

Even if her soul drained away with the blood she spilled, muddying the sandy dust of Brecon Forest’s floor, Myra’s spirit attracted The Frayed like the glitter of candlelight drew other pests and she had no choice about the killing when her flesh was their idea of a feast.

For the timing to be right, and the reading to be easy, sentence lengths need to vary.

I had a link for a site that helped me with the sentence explanation but I lost it when I shut the page down - :(  - tidying up, never good. So, I'd like to thank everyone who posts the amazingly helpful content I read every day. 

I would love to read a simple or complex sentence from your WIP; you could post one, of any type, in the comments. :)

Wednesday 19 January 2011


For January 2011, my posts are about the basics. Today I'm thinking about points of view. 

I have written in first person - limited to two protagonists - but I love the freedom and flexibility of third.  I'M A FLEA WRITER - bad habit, I know - but if there's a spare head nearby, in my narrative, I'm likely to be turning up in it. It is one of my writing targets - I'm on-it like Lyclear ;)


First person point of view is told through a single character. The reader is immersed in the character's thoughts, feelings: it is intense. The reader is limited to experiencing life as this character sees it. They are plunged into the character’s life with the intensity of the body-swap movie. If this is the POV you are writing in you’ll be using “I” a lot!

Second person is active and direct. This POV is used least often. It may be worth experimenting with, but it lacks the immediacy of first person and the versatility of third. If you were to try writing in this POV, and it is being seen more often at the moment, the writer, you, get to inform the reader what they need to know or understand at any given point:
You hear the swing on the porch creek rhythmically but the greyed leaves are breath-held still in the twilight and you can’t quite make your hand grip the door handle.
Second person can be effective, but I don’t think I could write a whole one.;)

Third person is awfully-versatile but prone to abuse. Writers get to soak the pages with 
otherwise unseen research and planning. Just because any character can be used to relay information, fleabouncing the reader into more than three heads is not wise. Wash that need right out of your head! ;)

What is your Point of View?

Tuesday 18 January 2011


On her Blog: Life, the Universe and Writing, Shallee McArthur is hosting a What's Your Process BlogfestI'm looking forward to reading how other people approach the process of writing. :)

I found the process of writing evolved.
This was how I used to see planning a novel.

My process was simple and linear.

I have a much more twisty kind-of-process now.

These turn up in unlikely places: a wall with crumbling mortar or a stain in the plaster; the man who barges by; the kids who push into the centre of anything and the ones who hang back; seeing or reading a re-working of an old story with an unexpected twist and - clich├ęd but true – from dreams. I carry two kinds of note books around with me: Brief and Extended ideas.
Characters and setting
My process reflects a visual approach: I look for images I can be inspired by the characters, and the settings, grow from pictures. For protagonists and antagonists alike, I select character traits and an improvement journey.
I’m a big Mind Map fan. I write the idea in the middle of a page then collect ideas; at this point they branch out in any directions. I select where I want to go with the story
I plan the over-all desired outcome for my character and the obstacles they will face. For every chapter I plan an outcome and an obstacle.
Hook and voice
I work on the hook and the voice for the novel – experimenting with the opening up to about the 250-word mark

I’d love to be able to write every day – free from interruptions. I need blocks of time, hours, when I get immersed in the creating the story. Music can help to keep concentration levels high it can play a part in helping me create the right mood or tonal quality in the writing. Quite often, I work in total silence – apart from the uneven ticking. First draft. This is when I write. I don’t switch off my grammar, spelling and punctuation keys – and my internal editor gnaws like eye teeth – but I set word  targets and write. Writing is organic and, even though I have a plan, I will go with a new direction if necessary. During the first draft process, some chapters may be short and unfinished. When events unfold, I go back to flesh out skinny chapters. Especially when I realise it is the place to add details and foreshadowing.

This is where prior knowledge (planning) combines with hindsight. By checking the chapter against the outcome, I look for ways to make the obstacles higher – to create more internal or external tension. I turn up the conflict: if the stake can be raised on the way up and twisted on the way down this is when I make sure it has been done.
A.R.R.R!!! (Adding, Rearranging, Removing, Replacing) I’m a planner but I get caught by the need for revision. Global alterations. Picking sections up and moving them around.  Editing is when the revision gets in-depth. Line by line - one paragraph at a time – I weed out repetition keeping a Thesaurus handy.  I use Find to spot weak words and cut out the deadwood. The aim is to make every sentence stronger. This goes for grammar errors and spotting spell-checker over-sights: I proof read until my eyes bleed.
After I’ve done the writing and revisions, the Writers’ Circle, Beta Buddies or anyone prepared to read with a critical eye, become essential. By this point, I have lost all perspective – usually, I hate every word – but because I’m a rational person I look for readers outside my maelstrom. I’m desperate for feedback so I can think and start the post-writing rewriting all over again ;)


Experimenting with genre and audience is an important part of my writing process. I write chronologically so my next challenge is to write an manuscript that isn't.

Have you found your writing process evolved?   What challenge have you decided to conqueror next?

Saturday 15 January 2011


My uncle died a year ago today. My Mum, like any older sister, is finding this hard. 

My writing thought is brief. 

If one of the key rules of writing is to cut irrelevant detail, anything that gets left behind has to encapsulate a unique insight from the character’s perspective - an echo from the depths of their psyche. 

Philosophical, metaphorical or creative - there is no place for hard as stone or tears glittering like diamonds (unless she is fake-deceptive and tearing-up to make tracks to an engagement ring).

Writing needs to original and that is not going to be found in the plot.

Thursday 13 January 2011


Anne R Allen sent me best wishes and an award - which was lovely of her. I was glad to have something to smile about. 

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award... thanks Anne 
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pass the award on.

7 Things About Me
1) I have not been ill once since July - at this time, for the last three years, my cough was so severe I broke ribs. - Is this linked to my Sabbatical from the day job?
2) I support Man Utd FC because I live far enough away ;) and Watford because I live there.
3) I can watch even the most tactically-skilful (some people might say: boring) cricket matches and stay awake.
4) I am addicted to Sci-fi on TV and books in almost every genre 
5) I watch America's Next Top Model, Gossip Girl, Glee, Grey's and anything including werewolves or vampires *hangs-head-in-shame
6) I learned to love vegetables after I gave up being vegetarian 
7) When shopping with my daughter I have to chant the mantra: "I will not buy everything we see." because she leads me astray while I pull her along by the arm ;)

I'm going to pass the award on to:

Rayna M Iyer at Coffee Rings Everywhere  Vibrant, colourful and inspiring
Rick Watson at Life 101 ~ Life In The South  Rick post some of the most beautiful photographs
Abby Annis at Abby Annis: They Lurk in the Shadows Because you can learn how to make awards and - she might even tell you how to get them to wander by and stop loitering on the edges of you Blog. If I ever get time that is on my list of things to learn.

Thank you to all my Followers - I hit 200 hundred today. That was a wonder and great surprise. If you would like to share in the Stylish Blogger Award please feel free to grab the badge and post away. Let me know I'll pop over and check-out the revelations. :)