Stories are hard, I think. I can think of scenes – scene after scene after scene – but stories? Stories are hard. I’m not really sure why I find stories hard – and I mean proper, structured stories with a beginning, middle, and end – but I do. I start writing and I’ll be honest, half the time, I don’t even know where it’s going and then I get stuck and I’ve got a scene with no real purpose. Is that just me or does that happen to anyone else?
See the first part of this story here.
Sir Drink-A-Lot swivelled slowly on his bar stool to face the fallen glass that now lay in a thousand tiny pieces on the floor.
“What the…?” he asked, as though the shattered glass could answer him. He held an empty glass in one hand and a bottle of whisky in the other. Poor Sir Drink-A-Lot didn’t manage to fill it before all the craziness began though, for the fallen glass was merely the beginning. With a low grumble, the floor began to rumble and the glasses on the shelves began to tinkle amongst themselves. Sir Drink-A-Lot stared, open-mouthed, as Evry Pub shook around him.
The Last Weekend tells the story of Ian and Em, a seemingly everyday couple, with everyday values and everday lives. It tells the story of a stiflingly hot August bank holiday weekend away in the English countryside with old friends, Ollie and Daisy. Despite having not seen each other for a number of years, the two couples aim to revive old friendships, offer up new revelations, and spend a relaxing weekend together, taking a break from the woes of real life. And it turns out just like that. Sort of.
I’ve been thinking about death a lot lately. Not in a philosophical sense – where do we go afterwards, do we have a soul? Not in a physiological sense either – the heart stopping, the brain dying, the blood not pumping around. No, I’ve been thinking about death in a more normal sense, in an every-day human sense.
Somewhere far, far away, hidden in the depths of the Earth, is a village that very few people know about. It’s a rather special village indeed, and it has a rather peculiar name. It’s called Evry Village.
It’s a tiny, unassuming little place. In fact, if you were to accidently come across it – although it’s very unlikely you would – if you were to come across it, you wouldn’t think that there was anything special about it at all. The gardens are well-kept and the streets are well-swept, the neighbours are friendly and the children are happy. The cats and dogs are clean and kind too. If you were to come across it, everyone would behave perfectly normally, as though they were merely a pleasant, simple community. But every Evry inhabitant, from the tiniest kitten to the boys and girls and the oldest of the grown-ups too, they all know the truth about Evry Village. For Evry Village has a secret, and what a very special and rather delightful secret it is.
Death’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Funny weird, not funny haha. Nobody knows where you’ve gone or why or what’s happened to you. You’re just there one minute and then…then you’re not. You’re just an empty shell, a nothingness that bears no resemblance to you, the real you. You’re lost in the realm of things that can’t be explained, whilst those you’ve left behind are wandering, wondering, shell-shocked and surprised even though really, it shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. It happens to everyone eventually, and you were old and sick, it was on the cards.
It was raining. Henrietta hated it when it rained. She hated it in that same way that all the hatless hate the rain.
“Eeeek,” she squeaked as the rain pattered onto her soft and downy head. “I’m going to melt!” Her little feet pitter-pattered on the ground, making the cutest, teeny-tiniest slapping sound. She ran here, she ran there, but nowhere could she escape the plops of liquid that quite insisted on landing upon her soft and downy head.
You know, one of the things that I love most about books is just how versatile they are. Yes, they can make you laugh or make you cry, but it’s more than that. Books can be pure entertainment and escapism or they can be there to guide you through life. They can be a reflection of your soul or help you through a spiritual matter. They teach you things, from facts and figures to methods and hows to do things. Format It Yourself by Jo Roderick falls exactly into this category – and it does it very, very well.
I’ve been stood here for too long, trying to make a decision. I know I’m taking too long. I just know it. This isn’t normal. It’s not. I’m not normal! She’s getting impatient. I thought I’d made my decision but now she’s asking me questions, making me clarify my decision, making me add extra nuances. It’s like time has slowed and I’m having to use all my energy to concentrate on making this one decision. Too many. Too many decisions today. Too many decisions in life. What if I make the wrong one? What if I say yes and it all goes disastrously? What if I say no and regret it? There is so much riding on it. Or is there? Perhaps the rest of my life, perhaps not.
This week I was pulled into a discussion on Facebook about ghost-writing.
It began when novelist Matt Haig wrote an impassioned opinion in which he lamented the number of books whose true authors were not acknowledged, which kicked off a wide-ranging and emotional debate. One commenter introduced the term ethics and asked me to talk about ghost-writing from that perspective. As that’s far too long and gnarly for a Facebook comment, I thought I’d explore it in a post. Here goes.
What ethical considerations might there be? Looking through the discussion, they seemed to be:
- Is it dishonest to pretend that anybody could write a book?
- Does ghost-writing devalue the contribution of real writers, or appreciation of their skill, especially when so many genuine writers struggle to get published?
I’m going to tackle this in a roundabout way, and first, I think we have to be practical.
Writing is like…
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So I was happily browsing the internet, doing nothing much that was productive, when I came across this image:
I almost wrote this based on a normal 9-5 week, but decided against that and went for my week instead. It’s a bit of silly fun (poetry is far from my forte), so laugh with me and not at me 😉
The Seven Tones of Riley
Sunday is ambitious, a girl of many plans,
She is the adventurous one, the one who had no bans.
She loves to shop at brocantes, buying afghans, dustpans, toucans,
In fact, she buys just anything that she could grab with her fat hands!
And after that, to work she goes with a face full of smiles and suntans,
And by the end of her shift, she falls exhausted into sleepy wonderlands.
Monday is a slovenly wench, pyjama clad with straggly hair,
But she revelled in her lazy day, all draped across her chair.
A grin stretched across her tired face and she said with quite a flair:
“Today I shall do nothing, and I will not go elsewhere,
For unlike others who race to work, those with full despair,
Today I begin my weekend, and I do not give a single care!”
Tuesday, she is quite a mover, as productivity headlined.
She scrubs and cleans and rubs and dusts, blowing cobwebs from both home and mind.
“It’s a day to get stuff done,” she says, “a day I use to rewind,
And undo all the mess I made during my work and lazy days combined.”
She whizzes here, she whizzes there, will oh will she find,
That final speck of dust and then, she can finally unwind.
Wednesday is a writer-type and she’s creative with her prose,
She sits and types and laughs and cries as her characters face life’s throes.
Wednesday is a happy lass, and it most definitely shows,
As she sits and does what she loves most, making sure that everybody knows,
That to disturb her now means the pain of death, a life brought to its close,
Although even she admits, it’s only in her stories that she stoops to these true lows!
Thursday is a Domestic Goddess, or at least she pretends to be!
She cooks treats for all and sundry, although her husband he does plea:
“Thursday, I do love your treats, so keep them all for me!”
Thursday cannot do that though, for she makes the treats with glee,
For all those lovely French-folk who for the treats say “oui!”
Friday’s face is rather saggy, as early she does rise.
She drags herself to work with sleep still in her eyes,
For she does not like to wake so soon, and this she does despise!
But when she starts, it all does change and she starts to feel the highs.
Work gets busy and she doesn’t stop and it’s then she rather thrives,
For then it does upon her dawn that she’s grown quite fond of these barflies!
Saturday is a worker girl, full of life and energy,
She is sprightly, she is active, perhaps she’s like a flea!
She works hard and loves it too, and I’m sure you will agree,
That Saturday is a happy girl with the stamina of three.
She jumps around and moves about, until it’s time for tea,
And then she sits and chills and thinks “how great it is to be me.”
You know what’s funny? Time. Time’s funny. Take, for example, the bacon sandwich I ate this morning. That hot, greasy deliciousness that was smothered in tomato ketchup and smelled like heaven? That feels like it happened years ago when in reality, it’s only been a mere 12 hours ago (okay, so maybe not ‘mere’ – 12 hours is a long time to go without bacon). It works the other way too. Take my last blog post, for example. I put that out just last week, right? WRONG! It’s been two months! Two months? What happened there? I was tricked by the accordion of time, that’s what happened.
Destiny entwines the lives of Abigail, Beatrice, and Cecelia (the eponymous A, B, and C). Although we meet them only briefly – both at the beginning of this book and again at the end – their stories are embroiled in the rest of the tale – that of Frank and Delphine, with whom we travel on a journey of love, of disaster, of heartache, and of recovery. This book is about loveable characters and how their lives are pulled together by destiny.
It’s June! Did you know that already? Because I don’t think the little hobbit in the sky who controls the weather knows that. He’s rather confusedly pressing all the October buttons instead of twizzling the June knobs. It’s cold where I am, and rainy, just like October! It’s so rainy that there are floods all over France and it’s so cold that I’ve gone back to wearing two pairs of socks (at the same time, you understand). The weather-hobbit must be drunk.
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they realise that they need to join a book club. That time, for me at least, is nigh. That’s why I’m now a bona fide member of Annie’s Bar Book Club. Of course, I’ve been a member of a book club before. In fact, before I moved to France, one of my strongest ties to Wales – one of the few things that made me think twice about the move – was my book club. I loved it and I miss it, so what better thing to do than join another now I’m here?
I’ve had this book on my Kindle for a number of weeks now, after downloading it as part of Aiding Indie Authors (if you like reading, it’s well worth checking out that group, by the way). To be honest, I was reluctant to start it. I’m not sure why. I have read many of Gogerty‘s stories on the blog Bookshop Bistro, so I already knew I enjoy her style. Perhaps my reluctance stemmed from my lack of energy for a collection of short stories, but perhaps it was something else – I really don’t know. Whatever the reason was, it was stupid reason! It was stupid, because once I started, I quickly realised that I was going to fall in love with many of these stories!
I know I’ve talked about my connection with technology before, but it really became apparent again this week (or should I say, this fortnight), when my laptop had to visit the little computer hospital. That’s right, the little ambulance came and everything (at least, it did in my slightly deranged and wonky mind – in reality, I just carried my poor baby down the street to the shop). The computer doctor was very nice. He worked very hard (if, admittedly, a little slowly) and he’s done a truly marvellous job. Stitched her up like new, he did. Cleaned her inside and out. He’s my favourite doctor now. The fortnight that has just gone by though…boy was that tough!
I do quite a variety of editing and proof-reading, from academic papers to fiction and everything in between. Sometimes, the work is painfully dull but for the most part, it’s mildly interesting and besides, I’m not doing it to be entertained. Sometimes though, on the rare occasion, I get to work on a piece that is not mildly entertaining but is addictive and thrilling and The Valadin by Wayne Farrugia was just that.
These are some really great tips for any author! There is definitely a lot in here that I’ll bear in mind when it comes to going through my own WIP.
Whether you are new to writing or an old pro, brushing up on the basics is always helpful. Because no matter how GOOD the story is? If the reader is busy stumbling over this stuff, it ruins the fictive dream and she will never GET to the story. So today we are going to cover six ways to self-edit your fiction. Though this stuff might seem like a no-brainer, I see these blunders ALL the time.
….unfortunately even in (legacy) published books.
When I worked as an editor, I found it frustrating when I couldn’t even GET to the story because I was too distracted by these all too common oopses.
There are many editors who charge by the hour. If they’re spending their time fixing oopses you could’ve easily repaired yourself? You’re burning cash and time. Yet, correct these problems, and editors can more easily get to the MEAT…
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Today is Sir Terry Pratchett’s birthday. He would have been 68. That’s not quite a grand old age, but he made the most of his short years. He wrote over 70 novels, in which he skilfully entwined fantasy and humour, and all the while, he made commentary on society and references to all levels of culture almost without you realising.