Sunday, 20 July 2008

Blog Break

I'm having a break from blogging - writing this blog and commenting on other people's blogs. There's nothing wrong, I've just got a lot on my plate at the moment and need a bit of time out.

See you soon.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Note to self

Do NOT write blog posts after half a bottle of wine.

Doh.

This post will only be understood by people who have subscribed to this blog on Google Reader and noticed the difference between the blog post they saw there and the one underneath this post. Secret's out for the eagle-eyed! ;o)

p.s. The book I referred to in the post before the last one is Balzac's "The Wild Ass's Skin". Orgy or no orgy I'm still not tempted to read it. Which is weird because when I was in my twenties I loved me some Satre, Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche. Am I getting thicker with age or just less pretentious?

I *heart* trains

There's something a bit magical about trains sometimes. I'm not sure if it's the (mostly) quiet or the rocking motion or the lack of TV/radio/internet that stimulates the creative brain but the most wonderful thing happened to me on the way home from work tonight.

I wrote the blurb for novel #3!

I didn't even really KNOW what novel #3 was about, I just had a vague idea when, all of a sudden, the first line of my 'blurb' (you know, like they put on the back page of a novel) appeared in my head and before I knew it I'd written a good 200 or 300 words.

And I'm SO excited about this novel. It's pure women's fiction, not a hint of a ghost or a ghoul or anything even vaguely supernatural. It's about relationships. Between women and men and women and women. And I've got a good feeling about this one. I'm going to whisper this bit but I think there may even be a market for it.

There's an agent that asked me to let her know any ideas I had for non supernatural women's fiction. I'm seriously tempted to contact her and send her this blurb (even though NiceMrAgent still has the rewrite of my very supernatural novel #1 and I feel I should wait for his verdict).

What to do?

Monday, 14 July 2008

Call me lowbrow but...

A while ago there was a book giveaway on the Penguin Publisher's website. I entered my name and address but didn't receive an email saying I was going to get a free book so thought nothing more of it.

Today I received my free book.

I was naturally excited by a book-shaped parcel (I LOVE getting free books, love it!) but my heart fell when I checked out the blurb on the back cover. I'm blanking out the title and author's name to see if anyone can guess the title of the book from the blurb!

"The imaginative breadth and the intellectual depth of XXXXXXX makes it one of the greatest of XXXX's 'Etudes philosophiques'. With its central symbol of the magic piece of shagreen, it expresses the peculiarly XXXXian idea of the human will and dramatizes with startling urgency the choice between ruthless self-gratification and asceticism, between vice and virtue, between dissipation and restraint. The symbolism is powerful but not overpowering: shrewd psychology, superbly chiselled dialogue and the sheer energy of the descriptive passages - the gambling den, the orgy, the devastating finale - gives XXXXXXXX a compelling and forceful realism."

Now, call me lowbrow, but that description didn't make my fingers itch to turn the first page. In fact, the only thing my fingers did do was carry the book over to the bookshelf and put it away*.
I feel a bit ashamed though. Like someone just delivered an bespectacled orphan to my door and I shut it in a cupboard instead of giving it a hug.

Have you ever been given a book you've immediately abandoned to a lonely, unread life on a shelf?

*That's a tiny bit of lie. I did read up to the line, "This cry, ejaculated in a sharp and scolding voice, came from a small, pallid old man squatting in the shadow behind a barrier, who suddenly rose to his feet and displayed a very ignoble type of countenance"...and then put it on the bookshelf.

25% at last!

On a bit of a roll tonight.

I wrote 853 words (the most I've written in one sitting since joining the Hundred Words a Day blog) and finally, finally I've hit 25% of novel #2 written.

The chapter I'm writing at the moment is setting the scene for 'the big thing' that happens in this novel and I actually really, really enjoyed my writing session today. Hallelujah for these moments (as opposed to the 'why the hell did I start writing this novel in the first place?' moments that seem to occur far more frequently). Let's hope there's some more of them to come!

On the downside I haven't even come up with an idea for my Story a Fortnight story yet never mind started it and it has to be in by 8pm tomorrow. Oh dear. Am hoping the story fairies will give me an idea while I sleep tonight!

Anyway...

20,092 / 80,000 words (25.1% of novel #2 first draft written).

Sunday, 13 July 2008

The flymo faught the garden and the garden won!

Up at 9am this morning. My sister drew up in her car at 10am (she's nothing if not punctual!). I'd already managed to drag the binbags containing the carpet and underlay, my broken airwalker thingy, a set of broken scales and various bits of wood to the kerb. Sister loaded them into the car while I went into the garden to get the broken push mower and the bits of wood that used to be my garden table/bench thing.

By 10.20am we were at the dump.

By 10.45 we were at B&Q. Spent £70 on a flymo mini, an extension cable/lead, some white paint and lots and lots and lots of bedding plants and plants for hanging basket.

By 11.20am I was in the garden.

FIVE AND A HALF HOURS later I stopped gardening.

My garden is only about 15 foot by 15 foot with two beds. How can one garden get so out of control? (I blame writing).

Anyway, I filled 5 bin bags with garden waste. That's how out of control it was. Oh yes, and the garden faught back and broke my brand new flymo. Well, it broke half the flymo. There are two plastic blades and it broke the plastic by one of the blades so the blade no longer stays put. Not that there was much of a blade left. The garden of doom had shorted each blade by about 3cm so they were just little stubby blades like milk teeth.

According to my receipt from B&Q I can get a replacement as long as I didn't "misuse, abuse or neglect" my flymo. Me thinks I should keep quiet about the fact my garden is 50% grass, 50% stones.

I'm pooped. Totally, totally pooped. And to think I was going to try and do a workout DVD in front of the TV tonight too. Ha!

And I don't think I'm going to be writing much either.

Ah well. Two jobs down (carpet and garden). Only 15 million to go....

Novel Racers, Carpets and Words

Spent a wonderful six hours with some of the Novel Racers this afternoon*. I was expecting to see lots of familiar faces after the Manchester meet but actually ending up meeting more new people than old people. Not that I'm calling any of you old...er...you know what I mean! It was lovely to spend time with you all. And Caroline, Liz, Clare, Mel, Ellie, Juliette and everyone else who couldn't make it, you were missed.

Thanks to everyone who listened to me whinge on about my moving nightmare (particularly as I'm starting to bore myself on the subject now!) and thanks to Kate for listening to me whinge on about my writing trials and tribulations, SpiralSkies for calling me glamorous (you made my day. Tho' I do think you need your eyes testing!), to Zinnia for making a lovely speech (it was really touching), JJ and Paige for sorting out the card and pressie business, Kate and Lucy for starting the Novel Racers and Captain Black for navigating tube hell with me! I definitely wouldn't have finished novel #1 last year without the group - or started novel #2. So thank you everyone.

Was gutted I had to leave to attend to carpet pulling up duties. How crap. I successfully managed to put that off until 10pm (got home at 8pm) and two hours later, covered in dust and bits of malting underlay, I managed to squeeze it into two black bin bags and sweep up. I now have a...er...lovely wooden floor which the previous owner decided to paint green for some reason?! Roll on a week on Monday when 'all' I have to do is drag the wardrobe, a chest of drawers, two bookshelves and a bed (which I'll need to dismantle) into my pocket-sized living room so the carpet layer can do his job!

Tomorrow I'm up early (for me) at 9am so my sister can help me take the carpet, underlay, an defunct airwalker (an exercise thingy that squeaks badly and has lived in my wardrobe for the last 2 years!), a rusty push mower, planks from a rotten bench in the garden and various random bits of wood to the dump! Hooray for sisters with cars!

Then I'm off to B&Q to get a flymo, a v. long extension lead and some plants and will attempt to 'do a ground force' on my garden to make it look low maintenance (as ordered suggested by the letting agent!).

To top off my busy day today I managed a couple of hundred words of novel #2! Sarah*G* you were right about feeling inspired after the meet. I feel much more enthusiastic about novel #2 now. Just 700 and something more words and I'll have hit 25% done. So that's my plan for tomorrow. Do dump (oops, that sounds rude!), do garden, then do novel. Then on Monday I can write my Story A Fortnight story with a clear conscience.

Result.

* No photos from me this time but there are some in existence. Eeek!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

My story in Take a Break Fiction Feast - out now!

Back in April I posted that I'd had an email from Norah, Take a Break's fiction editor, to say she wanted to buy one of my stories.

Unlike some of the other mags TaB don't send you a complimentary copy of the issue your story is in so I had no idea my story had been published until Bernadette let me know! I was a leettle bit surprised that it was published in the August edition as the story has an autumnal setting but I'm not unhappy - it means I get paid sooner rather than later. (no sign of the cheque yet though!)

I've neglected the blog over the last couple of days because I've developed a stinky cold/chest infection that I can't shake off. Grrrr. I'd better feel well (or at least a bit less snotty) tomorrow as I'm off to see The Counting Crows and I want to jump about a bit without holding a roll of loo roll over my nose!

I've also neglected my novel over the last couple of days. I was at a bit of an impasse anyway because I knew I needed to go back and fix a couple of scenes at the beginning of the novel that painted my MC in quite an unsympathetic light but the cold made my brain feel too cloudy to come up with a solution. I did a bit of work on the novel today, more of a temporary fix than a solution, but I couldn't carry on writing with it nagging away at me. Weirdly I'm actually looking forward to editing this novel (and I hated editing novel #1). Not sure why that is - maybe because I'm mostly making this novel up as I go along whereas I planned a fair bit of novel #1.

Novel #3 is still bubbling around in my brain but I'm determined to try and finish novel #2 first*.

17,854 / 80,000 words (22.3% of novel #2)

*I reserve the right to change my mind at any time!

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Creating sympathetic characters

A few posts ago I asked "What makes a character loveable?" and a really interesting discussion started up in the comments box. It got me thinking, a lot, about loveable characters and how you go about creating them. I googled and googled 'writing a loveable character' but drew blank after blank. Tonight I decided to google 'writing a sympathetic character' and lo and behold - loads of links!

Here's a good one...

http://www.sff.net/people/alicia/artsympathy.htm

It's interesting in that it reflects a lot of what was said in the comments about what DOESN'T make a loveable/sympathetic character - i.e. someone what whinges and whines a lot, someone that is too passive when 'bad stuff' happens to her, someone who reflects too much instead of 'doing' etc etc.

By thinking about what makes a character sympathetic/unsympathetic I gradually realised something...

The reason why I'm not flying along with novel #2 is because my main character just isn't sympathetic enough (if I'm not in love with her there's no hope for my potential readership). In fact, in one of the early chapters when you're supposed to be sympathising with her you find yourself sympathising with her boyfriend instead. For reasons that become clear later in the book I couldn't let the readers dislike the character's boyfriend too much but I took it too far and made HIM the object of sympathy instead of her.

Bad move.

I've got some thinking to do...

p.s. Anyone ever realised their character is too unsympathetic and set about doing a rewrite to fix it? All suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

I dreamed I was in my late grandmother's house last night. I was in the spare bedroom, where I slept when staying with her as a child. I crept around the room fully aware there were ghosts about but with no idea if or when they might appear, then lay down on the double bed and turned on the the radio.

When I looked to my left there was my grandmother, lying beside me, slightly blue and sparkling as though a light frost had settled on her. I said hello, not feeling nearly as scared as I thought I'd be lying next to a real live (dead) ghost. Gran didn't like what I was listening to so I changed the radio station and asked her what it was like in heaven.

"Not bad," she said. "We still get all the gossip you know."