NaNoWriMo

Ok ok …. I survived the writing group review. More than survived even. Some people really liked what I had written and even better some big flaws had been pointed out to me so I can now fix them.

Of course I have not edited any further or even touched the manuscript yet… But all that is about to change! Because I have a very cunning plan. I will post one short flash fiction a day in November under my stories Page and I will attempt to finish the whole first draft as part of NaNoWriMo. Fool I hear you cry. I agree perhaps its a bit much pressure but what’s the worst that can happen? I fail? At least I would have tried and even that paltry try would have moved me on a bit!

So here goes something or possibly nothing 🙂

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Don’t abandon hope all who enter here

Don’t abandon hope any who enter here. I have felt very hopeless of late but its starting to come back to me.

So Its been a while. A long while. I did feel that this little seedling of a blog had been abandoned but here I am again ready to give it another go.

Its been a challenging few months. The summer went by in fear, despair and anxiety with little or no good news. Often not even a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Needless to say that every sphere of my life has recently been hit and some fully annihilated.

But I guess I must be a cockroach as here i am – surviving. Eventually maybe even thriving.

In the back of my mind the whole time though was my work. My writing. Was this the legendary writers block? Was i unable to write? I dont think it was. I just needed all my mental capacity to keep my self going and I didn’t have any spare time or energy to feed my characters and to edit edit edit.

Yet they were all still there. Still living their lives and reliving certain actions and events. Their world kept unfolding in my mind even if the fingers never touched keys and pen never touched paper.

In the midst of anger or sadness It would occur to me that Edgar must have known Nick and that when Miles went missing of all the people in the world he would have a t least considered going to one of them. And what of the elusive uncle? Was he that elusive or was he about to come in from the cold? On and on it went. It wasn’t a shelter or a pass time. I never actively sought to think of the book. If anything I tried to put it out of my mind, sick with guilt that I had devoted it no time in months.

As Lear said “Nothing will come of nothing”. I too had always thought that no effort would bring no results. But it seems its not always the case. They kept on living and playing out their lives and every once in a while i saw what they were up to, surprised at the elegant moves some had made too gentle and elegant for me ever to have thought of them.

So I’m back and ready to start listening to them again and to start writing and editing.

The cold slap of water in the face will come tonight where the writing group will review a small yet vital chapter of mine. Having reread it today It needs a lot of work and the amateur spelling mistakes and autocorrect spell checker (I think i wrote the chapter on my iPhone!) are embarrassing – My favourite (most awful one) is “i witness”. *face palm*

They will rip me to shreds. Yet it will help me and I oh so deserve it!

Wish me luck.

Rivers of London – Three amazing books by Ben Aaronovitch

It’s a lost art – book buying. I wince even as I type that – like I’m personally killing books by saying it. But if not lost today then soon. Ebooks are great and do make life easier, yet they just aren’t the same. But they are changing the reading/writing/publishing game. Getting a kindle was a bitter sweet moment in my life. You see I’m a book geek. Always have been. I love to touch them, leaf through them, smell them. I also love to feel their covers. I’m not proud of it but I just can’t bring my self to buy or love a book with a rubbish cover. It’s taken me a while to overcome this enough to buy ebooks. It’s made a bit easier by my snazzy tactile kindle cover.

What first attracted me to Rivers of London was the cover. Its doodle / graffiti map of London overlaid with the strong bold font in blood red, not to mention how smooth and right it felt in my hand.

Sci-fi set in London. I was sold! I grew up in the big smoke and any books that are set in it immediately pluck at my nostalgic heart strings. The pictures in my mind are sharper and more vivid.

From the first page I was impressed. It’s rare to find a main character so immediate and likeable. You are instantly in his head for the crazy ride through the unknown magical side of London.

Peter is honest, modest and most importantly funny. No matter how serious the shit going down is, his perspective is light and likeable. It doesn’t detract from the severity of the events but it provides a counter point which gives it a great balance.

There is a winning combination in the book that makes it such a page turner: it combines the behind the scenes crime novel with magic and myth adding a big helping of London’s secret history into the mix.

The secret ingredient is Peters perspective and his world view. He has had a tough life; black in a mostly white profession and city; his dads continuing battle with addiction and driving passion for music. Yet he is not maudlin nor troubled. He is just trying to get on and do the best he can. It makes him easy to identify with and really easy to like.

So far there are three books in this series with a fourth in the pipe line (Broken Homes (2013)).

Book 1) Rivers of London (2011) introduces us to Peter Grant, a well meaning if not always very focused police constable who haphazardly discovers another side of London – a darker side. He works with the last wizard in England to unravel a mystery and save ordinary Londoners from a sly evil that is literally tearing people up.

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Book 2) Moon Over Soho (2011) follows on directly from the previous book. We have the cast of regular characters plus many new ones through whom we begin to learn more of the magical side of London. We look back on Nightingale’s past as well as Peter’s own history. We see how his parents, his childhood made him what he is. There are good times and bad, plus plenty of twist and turns to keep the adrenalin soaring.

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Book 3) Whispers Under Ground (2012) is a continuation that sees lovely Lesley installed at the Folly and Peter with a chance of getting on the Murder Squad. It’s the amazing mix of history and myth all told in the crisp funny voice that keeps you totally hooked from the first sentence to the last.

Click – no big bang merely just a whimper of realisation

I’m not really sure how things work for other people, but for me transitions consist of a subconscious ripening of an idea and then it’s eventual maturity into action. There’s a moment when it all clicks into place and really I don’t have to think about what I need to do or what the next logical step is because by then my feet are already following that path.

You could say its the lazy way and well… you’d be right. There is an element of not taking responsibility for ones actions but really its my attempt at not rushing things and always striving to follow my heart. But yes lazy.

It took me by surprise when one such seminal moment took place on a rainy Thursday in a church room. Attempting to ignore the clucking gulls of the WI and the church Choir competing for oxygen in various rooms around the imposing stone building that we lovingly call Craggy Island, while Nick Triplow walked us through his writing history and process.

Though the idea for my novel originated a long long time ago in a town far far from here – It was just that an idea and when the actual task of writing needed to start I couldn’t manage it. I stopped after less than about 5k words and it died a death. Yet I did day-dream about it, about the characters what they were doing, and why.

A last minute opportunity to attend a creative writing course (what would i have done if the French class hadn’t been full??) was the catalyst and I started writing in earnest last autumn.

Things went well to start with. I wrote about 3 – 4 hours a day. I wrote on the train on my mobile. I jotted in the Tesco checkout queue on the back of my shopping list. I wrote ideas while on the bus. I would wake in the middle of the night having solved a major plot point and have to write it down before it evaporated. I wrote at the dinner table I wrote at my desk. Flying high on years of suppressed ideas I wrote – a lot.

And as all things must this slowly started to slow and then subside. I’m at around 70k + now and its been a slow couple of months. I have started to edit… a bit. This is vital to any book, but especially to me. Due to the way / place i wrote most of the work is utterly unedited and lacks punctuation, lay out and even grammar. Don’t even get me started on the *creative* spelling. Yet editing is not exciting and doesn’t get me all motivated to start the laptop up. In fact I had only started to edit so that i didnt drop the novel completely. I want to finish it but I look around and every book seems to be a 200k word mammoth. Frankly I am not sure I have that in me. My pathetic 70k + unedited words seems like a joke. One i’d rather not tell in public – I don’t like tumbleweed.

On Thursday listening to Nick talk about Frank’s Wild Years, how long it took to do, how many words he wrote and how many edits he did made something click for me. I’m not going to be the next GRR Martin or JK Rowling. But I could finish this work and make it the best that it can be.

That’s what really clicked for me – the question “What are you waiting for?” because I have nothing to wait for. So I have started writing again. Or more to the point I have started to finish. I’ve accepted that its done and that the really hard part starts here. I’m back to pushing myself to start setting goals and deadlines and plotting a strategy of next steps. It needs very little writing to finish it, hundreds not thousands of words but in essence I’m done.

And then I need to sharpen my pen and slash it to bits. Cut out the slack and sew it back up again, tighter and firmer.

Wish me luck.

Brand New Image

So tell me what you think? About the new image that is. It’s a combination of symbols and characters from my first novel (name tbd).

As it’s a work in progress the image certainly represents how I feel about the novel right now and the shape it’s currently in.

It’s hard to know what it will be in its final version when all the words are out of me and on the screen. I chip away at it day after day and week after week. Sometimes I wake in the night having realised through a dream why a character would do something, how they would react. In all honesty it does not feel like I invent and write, it feels like I discover and reveal things.

Here is a passage from the book that provides the best insight what it’s about. Do tell me what you think of the art and of the synopsis!

Under my grey fleece and winter coat, I’m shivering and I can feel the scratchiness of the fabric as my hairs stand all on end. The taste in the back of my throat is old and lingering adrenaline. I can’t recall when I last felt comfortable and relaxed. When did I last live without fear? The hungry rats crawling in my belly won’t lie still, because they know that the worst is yet to come and they scratch and wriggle trying to get away.

If they know, I should have bloody known. I should have known better, but I took it personally. I thought that losing my mum and dad in the way that I did was about us. About the Kin. That we were hated and we were hunted. Oh so naively I thought it was all about me me me. But the picture was much bigger than that and right now even though I can’t see its edges I at least realize my complete and utter insignificance.

If only i’d kept my head down. Maybe they would have let me live.

Art

Out of the frying pan straight into commissioning art!

I’ve decided that my next “first ” for this year will be some artistic dabbling.

These day’s I’m spending every hour I can (when not at my day job!) writing. It’s what I think of each minute and dream of at night. And it felt natural that I’d want to visualise what they, my beloved and hated characters are like.

Through a friend of a friend I have commissioned a graphic artist to create an image for my blog. I’m hoping that this will then evolve into more images and then one day a book cover.

Yipee!