Exciting News!

I just wanted to mention to everyone that I’ve finished my first novel!  Yes it’s done (fist pump and celebratory dance!).  Absolutely blasted it out in about a month…I guess that once the idea came it just came. So I’m not laying myself open to criticism or anything like that but in the spirit of getting the words out there, I’ve decided to release a chapter a week to you lovely people on a Thursday.  Tune in next Thursday for the first instalment of “The Girl From the Sea”.  Pop your email in the box on my page to receive the notifications.  

A person with a very excited expression, holding her hands to her face in excitement

Bursting with excitement

(Photography by Carine Roberts)

The Garage

And yet more writing practice from my favourite app!  I’m noticing that all my timed practices tend to have an element of the macabre about them…perhaps I need to start writing happy endings.  Have you noticed any themes that you weren’t aware about in your writing?  In my novel in progress I have the words “rotting death” which was the point at which my husband stopped reading.  To be fair it is a children’s story so he needs to man up a bit, but I don’t think “rotting death” would terrorize a child – if I’d gone into the details and described everything down to the last drop of gore I would be concerned.  I think that a frisson of fear is good in a story though :).  What do you think? 

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Here is my writing practice for this week – The Garage: 

The garage stank of oil and diesel, and washing powder and the warm smell of tumble dried clothes. I couldn’t help it but I liked the mixture of dirty and clean. In amongst all the smells were household memories that had long since accustomed themselves to being resigned to the garage. “Open the damn box!” she thought. Nothing is going to jump out at you. Her dream was that the contents had disintegrated a long time ago and there was only a pile of ash inside. She heard her mothers voice saying, “Come child come. There’s nothing to fear from the past.”

She began to speak in a quiet voice to herself. “Just a box. Nothing to it. You can do it.” And it repeated over and over again. “Where did you hide it? In the box. You have the box. Open the box and destroy it. Once and for all.”

Geography

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of geography in a novel is the fantastic map at the start of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.  I have to say that I’m not a natural cartographer though (as far as I know!), so I’m not sure if I could create such a work of art. 

Geography and maps

Geography and maps

So how do you set about creating your world.  A very useful mind map which came from my crime writing course was all about location and sense of place.  Is it going to be a real place or made up?  Does it evoke any emotion in me or the reader?  Is it a place that lots of people will know?  Can the reader visualise what you’re describing? 

Location and Sense of Place

Location and Sense of Place

I seem to have started with bits and bobs from my travels which inspire the stories themselves.  So I’ve taken the quayside from Venice, transported it to a beach in West Wales and added the town in.  My novel is turning into a bit of a murder/adventure story which involves sailing, so there will be a fair amount of coastline to consider, which in my mind is currently the south coast of England.  There will have to be the girl’s home town which she runs away from and the place she ends up.  So we need to factor two towns/locations in.  I don’t envisage these places being hundreds of miles apart though – I would like them to have the same sort of feel to them.  Perhaps, identikit fishing villages along the Cornish or Devon coast?   

What I am finding though is that I’m having to move people around a lot in my head so I think it might actually be easiest to draw a physical map just so I can see where each character is at any given time – I wonder if this is what Tolkein realised??  Has anyone tried this??  Maybe it would be like those old WW2 movies, moving planes around with a pointer 🙂

A Macabre Writing Challenge

On my Writer’s HQ course that I’m currently doing, there is a recurring theme of “just get writing”.   So I revisited my lovely Writing Challenge app which does exactly the same thing, and here’s what came out this time.  

It’s slightly macabre – I wonder what is going on in my head sometimes! I suppose this is what happens when you switch off the planning and switch on the writing.

***  

He returned to the cemetery to finish what he started. It wasn’t a pleasant job but he had begun and you should finish what you began. He flew in with his cape flapping in the wind. He landed with a gentle whoosh as his cape billowed out around him like a black jellyfish.

“I don’t want to leave it like this, I must make it right,” he muttered to himself as he gathered himself together. He looked around the cemetery to hunt out what he needed. Graveyards held no fear for him. He rather feared the living more than the dead! There was no magic about him – he may look like a magician, but he was all about the hard work rather than swishing a wand and making it all disappear. The burial had been a work of art! A headstone, flowers, candles, fireworks – the lot. But the magic was gone. They had buried the wrong thing.

He peered into the chapel to make sure the chaplain had gone to bed, grabbed his shovel from the coal shed and headed over to Persephone’s headstone. He jumped over the fence which had been erected to protect her and knelt down in the wet grass. He felt around the headstone and to the right was a soft mound of earth. His beloved Persephone would remain safe and sound but he needed her accomplice, and she had been buried with Persephone.

“You have changed my love,” he crooned. “What did we do to you?” He brushed the earth from her small round face and blew over her in a figure of eight. “What did we do to you?” As the breath revived her and she took her first breath in two days all he could think was that she looked so tired. 

***

Writer’s HQ Course

It’s time for another course and this time I have chosen to do the 14 day free course from Writer’s HQ.  I told you that I was on a budget!  I am on Day 4 and I am loving this…It’s basically a course which makes you get off your bum and do some writing everyday to promote getting into a good writing habit.  I think I’ve had one day off over the weekend when friends were calling me to the pub but I figured that was ok.  I think you get 30 days to access the course.  

The videos all are engaging and presented by very normal people so far – hurrah.  They’re friendly and engaging and best of all they have been getting me to write!  Not huge amounts as I have a full time job and a very time consuming 2 year old.  But I have written for 4 days in the last 5 days – that’s better than I did before!

Tonight the task was to think about what you’re writing and sketch out ideas for 20 minutes.  I tend to use Evernote to write my thoughts and random trains of thought down, so I picked an idea that I came up with ages ago about a smuggling story and started free writing ideas down.  It’s going to be a children’s story based in a smuggling village somewhere in England. Year to be researched.  Children are not allowed to be included in the smuggling gang but they are perfect for it! They’re quick, they know best hiding places and can fit in very small places – think of the Secret Seven with a camp somewhere hidden. There are dangers though that they could get caught by the Watchmen or their parents!  Working title – The Night Horses.  Inspiration from “The Smuggler’s Song” by Rudyard Kipling. 

Writer's HQ course - a smuggling story

Writer’s HQ course – a smuggling story

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,
Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street.
Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark –
Brandy for the Parson,
‘Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don’t you shout to come and look, nor use ’em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again – and they’ll be gone next day!
If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining’s wet and warm – don’t you ask no more!
If you meet King George’s men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you “pretty maid,” and chuck you ‘neath the chin,
Don’t you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one’s been!
Knocks and footsteps round the house – whistles after dark –
You’ve no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty’s here, and Pincher’s here, and see how dumb they lie –
They don’t fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!
If you do as you’ve been told, ‘likely there’s a chance,
You’ll be given a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood –
A present from the Gentlemen, along o’ being good!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark –
Brandy for the Parson,
‘Baccy for the Clerk;
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie –
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by.

Rudyard Kipling

 It’s a work in progress 🙂