Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Inspiring the muse...

I thought I'd share some of the stuff that inspires me. Not just as a writer, but as a person too.

Today, I want to talk about stone circles. A buddy of mine is currently on the Lewis, an island just off Scotland's western coast. Yesterday, she visited the famous Callanish stone circle. The 'Stonehenge of Scotland'. http://www.virtualheb.co.uk/callanish-stones-isle-of-lewis/

Say 'stone circle' and many people automatically think of the most famous example: Stonehenge. You may be surprised  to learn then, that the British Isles are positively dripping in stone circles and standing stones. Really. http://www.stone-circles.org.uk/stone/

Okay, some are perhaps not as grand as Stonehenge, but, in my book, these smaller sibling circles are less 'staged' and much more accessible. You can be out for a walk on the moors and literally stumble over them. When I lived in Sheffield, I 'discovered' this circle hiding in the bracken while on one of my favourite walks along Froggatt Edge. http://www.stone-circles.org.uk/stone/froggatt.htm

Admittedly, this circle is smaller than its bigger brothers and sisters, and the passage of time hasn't been kind. But, for me, it's much better than Stonehenge. It feels more...intimate somehow.
Why do lumps of old stone inspire me? I guess it's because they're such ancient structures, erected by the long-dead hands of the ancestors. Hauling stones is hard work, so these places must have been important. As you're no doubt aware, there are no written records to tell us the purpose of these circles. There are theories, of course, but no one really knows for sure. 
For that reason alone, I think stone circles are fascinating. You might think I'm weird, but I like to touch the stones and close my eyes, imagining the sounds of ancient voices carried on the wind. 
Laugh all you like, but do try it if you ever get the chance.

Friday, 26 April 2013

The pen is mightier...

...than a keyboard. Well, for me, at least.

Finishing my current WIP has been tough. In the final stages, I've resorted to pen and paper--my ever-faithful 'Block' buster. Although I'm not finished yet, today has been one of those rare sweet days where the words are just flying onto the page. My hand aches from writing. I just can't keep up with all those delicious words and ideas.

What a buzz! I've just done a little happy dance of delight. I couldn't help myself. :)

Okay, so most of what I've written will be rubbish, but I know there's enough material there to construct something fairly decent, to get me to where I want to be.

I'm drunk, and without a sip of booze. How do you get through the tough days of writerly constipation?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Words of love...

The English language continually amazes me.

Rich and diverse, it's a living, breathing entity that never sleeps or grows stale. Every day, new words are assimilated into the Mother Tongue collective, devoured by her endless appetite.
English is a time machine. A magnificent tapestry interwoven with golden threads that offer a glimpse of the past for those who know how to look for it. A record of where we came from, where we are, and where we ultimately hope to be. 
In our words, the Vikings and Celts are still to be found. They live in harmony with the Angles and Saxons, the Romans, and Normans, and every invader who ever stepped onto this precious little island I call home.
Okay, enough. I'm well into 'purple' territory here. (The Rules. No:1265 para 2.7. 'Purple prose is bad, okay? Thou shalt NOT.' ) So, why am I waxing so lyrical?
Because this language of ours has only one poxy word for love. One! How can that be? The same word recycled over and over again, used to describe anything from our feelings for a chocolate bar/sympathetic gynaecologist to the person who is our heart's desire.
"Sanskrit has 96 words for love; ancient Persian has 80, Greek three, and English only one."
96 words! And I'm sure there are languages that have even more than that. This is only the result of my quickie venture into Google.
This is the land of Shakespeare, for goodness sake. The Bard is well known for his abundance of imaginative insults. What about love?
I find that fascinating, especially when we have so many words for 'sex', or to describe the jiggly bits of our anatomy.
I wish I could tell someone of the opposite sex that I love them, without fear my words will be taken the wrong way--I'm happily married, thanks very much. What should I say to an online buddy (male) who has really helped me out? Thank-you seems so cold, not enough to express my gratitude. 'You rock?' 'I'm very grateful?' 'I hope you realise how highly I esteem you?'
NO. I want to say 'I love you', but in a more appropriate way. 
Curse you, Mother Tongue. Diverse and colourful as you are, I'm only giving you an A-minus for this oversight.

Monday, 22 April 2013

I've lost that loving feeling...

I've reached the conclusion that the flu-ey type vomiting bug I've picked up doesn't mix well with typing.

Finishing up this story is hard enough without having to keep breaking off to puke. As for writing the romantic aspect? Forget about it. Is having the hero holding back the she-ro's hair as she barfs romantic?

Naw. Didn't think so. I think I'll call it a night.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

'The Rules' of writing...

...are very much like The Pirate Code, I think. Guidelines.

Just when I think I've wrestled a rule into submission, someone pops up and tells me 'Actually, according to the Whichever Manual of Free-style, ellipses/ em-dashes/whatever should be used like this...' 
Argh!!! Damnit! Now I've entered the Forbidden Realm of Exclamation Abuse. Someone go fetch me some twigs so that I might self-flagellate. :) Just kidding.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Two five o'clocks...

...in one day is a very bad thing.

One sick child + eighteen hours awake = burning eyes and a cotton wool brain + no decent writing.

I give up. My A4 pad looks like a dying spider has limped across it, leaking its black blood! Enough.

Anyone care for a poem? (It was either this or a random grumpy cat picture. :))

When I read this, I always get some wonderful pictures in my head. Go on, share a poem with me.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Too stunning to be real...

But it is real, and mind-blowingly beautiful. Lake Baikal.


This magical world is located in the south of Eastern Siberia, in the Buryat Autonomous Republic and the Region of Irkutsk, Russia.
Russian landscape photographer Alex El Barto Trofimov, who lives in the heart of Siberia, travels nearly 400 miles south to photograph one of the world’s most voluminous and oldest freshwater lakes – his favorite place to take pictures.

In March, due to a natural phenomenon the lake is particularly amazing to photograph. The temperature, wind and sun cause the ice crust to crack and form beautiful turquoise blocks or ice hummocks on the lake’s surface.'


'The lake contains roughly 20 percent of the world’s unfrozen surface fresh water and more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, with more than 80 percent of the animals being unique to the area.
The 25 million-year-old lake’s water is so clear that when it freezes over in the winter you can see a little over a 100 feet below. The lake can be crossed by foot when it freezes, but those who choose to cross it run the risk of frostbite and hypothermia.'
This natural world is a constant source of inspiration for me. Our planet still rivals any fantasy world I can dream up.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Desert Island Books...

I firmly believe the old adage is true: You can tell a lot about someone from the books they have on their shelves.

Okay, see what you learn about me from a list of my favourite books. ('Favourite' means I have read the book a half a dozen times or more. I have to be strict with myself here, otherwise my list would go on forever!)

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  4. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  5. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
There you go. Any insights you wanna share? Go for it. :)

Monday, 15 April 2013

Why is the bad stuff so easy to believe?

I'm a member of an online critique group, and I received a tough crit this week.  Usually, I take both the rough and the smooth with a generous bucket full of salt. But this crit? Ouch! True or not, it really hurt. It was like getting a boot in the family jewels...not that I have any...but that's beside the point.

Must we spoon feed our readers every little detail? I'm not a fan of BiBo (breathed in, breathed out) detail. It makes for dull reading, imo. I'm writing a book not a movie, for fecksake! That's why the Big G gave us an imagination! Books need an imagination. Movies, love (some of) them though I do, are an effortless form of entertainment. Switch on, zone out. That's it.

Why is it, I wonder that one negative crit has the power to make me question the accuracy of a dozen positive ones? I know it's stupid, but I've never been confident about my writing. Some critters have accused me (in a nice way!) of being falsely modest when I say a chapter is nit-ridden in my author notes. I'm really not. Some days, all I see are the faults.

I don't mind anyone saying 'Hey, take a look at Martha here, She's coming across as a bit wooden.' That wouldn't upset me at all. I'd be damn grateful. But there's a very fine line between brutal honesty and being mean, I think. Personally, I question the ability of any writer who wounds a fellow writer, especially when the injury is unintentional. What does that say about their mastery of words? More importantly, what does it say about them as a person?

How did I react? I gritted my teeth and wrote a polite thank you to the person for their time and effort. What else can you do?

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Show, don't tell...

 This particular 'Rule' of writing drives me crazy. I'm all for showing a character's fear/anxiety/excitement when it seems appropriate to do so, but must I do it every time?

Hearts apparently lurch, leap, contract, skip, gallop, freeze, break, soar, sink, stop(!). What a multifunctional organ it is! Can you think of any more? I wonder if my heart's any good at typing? That'd... be very useful. Or how about cooking dinner? :)

Is it really a horse-whipping offence to occasionally say, 'She was scared' and leave it at that? If spoon-feeding the reader is wrong ('The Rules', paragraph 1, subsection 345 B. Just kidding!)then should I describe each and every emotion of my hero and she-ro in graphic detail?

Can't my well-muscled blood pump simply move blood around and leave it at that?

Friday, 12 April 2013

Home alone...

Hubby has gone home to visit his family in Tunisia for a week leaving me and the kids home alone :(
It would've been nice to go with him BUT since the so-called Arab Spring uprisings, things aren't as they once were. It's no longer a news story, but the country remains in a state of flux.

Although President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali is long gone, the problems remain. Many people are now wishing he'd stayed. Yes, amongst other things, he was a thief, but now there are HUNDREDS of them, all wearing the mask of officialdom. :(

Life for the normal Tunisian hasn't improved much, if at all. For many of them, it's worse. Rising prices, unreliable power and water, live rounds being fired in the streets. Even worse, the radicals are a-coming, sitting outside mosques and throwing water over the bare legs of local women saying, 'Next time it'll be acid. Cover up!' :(

I'll just be glad when hubby is safely home again.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Random Q & A

I often wonder about random things then forget to go and look up the answers. The demands of modern life can do that, I guess.

Well, here's a question that's been bugging me on and off for months: ice houses. Where did people get the ice to store inside these buildings before the invention of modern refrigeration?
Most of you probably know the answer already. It's common sense. Not to me, it wasn't.

For anyone who's interested, here's an extract I found from this site: http://www.larne.gov.uk/template1.asp?pid=745&area=6&parent=642 that answered this particular irritating question for me.

'During the winter months, ice was collected from ponds and streams and placed in the chamber. The ice was broken up to create one deep ice mass. Thick stone walls, an earth covered roof, and insulating materials, such as straw placed over the ice, ensured that it lasted well into the summer.  A drain at the base of the chamber kept the ice free of melt water as moisture melts ice as quickly as heat.'

Ah! I feel so much better now. 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The End of the Quest...

by Frank Bernard Dicksee.
And I'm approaching the end of mine. Writing the novel that has consumed all my free time for the past however-many months.
This painting makes me think about two of my characters, Anselm and Martha. The man is on his knees, but the woman has that it's-not-you-it's-me expression going on. He's promising her the stars when all she wants is the moon. He can't win her, no matter how hard he tries. Even worse, she's being 'nice' to him. :(
Unrequited love sucks.
Is it wrong that I'm this attached to my anti-hero? His suffering gives me no joy.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

I'm taking the night off.

After spending six hours at +Blackpool Zoo  with the kids, I reckon I deserve a couple of hours off before I go to sleep.
So, I'm about to watch one of my favourite weepie films. Somewhere in Time, starring the late Christopher Reeve. (Sorry, I'm too tired to fanny about trying to put in a link). If you don't already know the film, go and +Google it. It's wonderful.

A time-travelling romance, a box of tissues, a cup of tea and I'm good to go.

I love Saturday nights!

JW Waterhouse's Ophelia says: By crikey! I am well and truly spent.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Lytham Hall...

It's the Easter holidays, so today we took the kids to Lytham Hall.(http://www.lythamhall.co.uk/)

This 18th century manor house is only a short walk from where we live and-even better-it's free admission. Yay!

My two wee monsters and their cousins ran amok in the wild and wonderful grounds, and afterwards we had tea and scrummy cakes in the tea-shop. Perfect day. The chicks fell asleep as soon as their heads touched their pillows. Problem is, I'm equally tired. I'm not managing much quality writing tonight, I can tell you!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Favourite artists part 2...

(Lamia and the soldier. J.W.Waterhouse.)
I love this artist. Okay, so J.W.'s Lamia is a tad...predatory and the knight is probably gonna end up dead following this encounter, but I don't look at it that way.

I like to look at the picture and listen to the words it creates in my head. I could write a book based on this picture alone. But I'd better finish the one I'm writing first.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Knight, knight...

Just a quickie post before I go to bed. The end is in sight. Anselm is getting rough with Martha. The truth is almost out there. Question is, where's Vadim? I don't know, and I'm the one writing this thing! :)

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